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SCENES AND CHARACTERS.
WHO WAS RAISED THAR."
ILLUSTRATED BY JOHN M'LENAN,
HARPER & BROTHERS, PUBLISHERS,
FKANKIIN SQUAB B.
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year one thousand
eight hundred and fifty-nine, by
HARPER & BROTHERS,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Southern District
of New York.
When I commenced the following sketch-
es I did not expect to publish them. I vis-
ited my old native section in 1857, after an
absence of twenty years, and while there the
reminiscences of my early years naturally re-
vived, from the influence of that strange but
necessary law in man's mental structure, as-
sociation of ideas, and on my return I con-
cluded to write out some of the scenes and
stories of that age and section. When I had
nearly finished them, they were read to some
friends, who warmly suggested their publi-
H cation. I have consented, and the reader
N< now has them, and will, of course, as one
v^ of the sovereigns of the mental world, de-
cide upon their merits. Long prefaces are
not generally read, and I shall say but little
in that line. I hope these "Scenes and
Stories" will contribute a mite toward our
country's stock of humorous literature. I
choose to conceal my real name, and will be
known by the nickname of my boyhood,
I. DESCRIPTION OF THE COUNTKY 13
II. "FAMUS OR NO FAMUS" 20
III. JOHNSON SNOW 23
THE NIGHT MEETING. — HE JOINS TUB CHUKCII. — HE APOSTATIZES.
— THE INTEEVIEW AND TEIUMPH.
IV. UNCLE DAVY LANE 50
THE CHASE. — THE H0EN-8NAKB. — THE EATTLBBNAKE BITE. —THE
FAST-RUNNING BUCK RIDE IN THE PEACH-TREE. — THE PANTHER.
— THE TURKEY HUNT. — THE PIGEON-ROOST. — BIG PEACH-EATING.
— SOME APPLE-EATING. — THE TAPE-WORM. — THE BUCK-HORNED
V. UNCLE FROST SNOW 94
VI. DICK SNOW 98
CHAKAOTERISTIC ANECDOTES. — COURTSHIP. — GETTING RELIGION.
VIL OLIVER STANLEY 124
ESCAPE PROM THE WHALE. — INDIAN AND BEAK STORY.
VIIL LARKIN SNOW, THE MILLER 139
8T0RY OF THE EELS FAST-EUNNING DOG.
IX. UNCLE BILLY LEWIS 152
THE FIRE-HUNT. — UNCLE BILLY PEEACEEB.
X. JOHN SENTER 1C5
THE TRIAL. — THE WEDDING.
XI. REV. CHARLES GENTRY 180
THE ORIGIN OF THE WHITES. — JONAH AND THE WHALE.
XIL FIGHTING 193
JOBH JONES AND HASH-HEAD SMITH. — BUTTING. — A QUARTER OF A
DOLLAR FIGHT ^PIGHT ABOUT A KIP-SKIN.
XIII. THE CONVERT 206
XIV. NOT A TRAVELER 212
XV. COOKING BIG EATING, Etc 21T
XVI. A DECLARATION OF LOVE 222
XVIL GLASSEL AND THE OWL 22T
XVIIL ONE OF THE PEOPLE 229
XIX. A CALL TO THE MINISTRY 233
XX. OUTDONE 237
XXI. STRAW I STRAW ! MORE STRAW HERE ! 241
XXII. TARE AND TRET AN ALABAMA TALE 244
XXIIL HAM RACHEL, OF ALABAMA 249
THE HOEN-SNAKE Frontispiece.
THE NIGHT MEETING 38
BENDING BUCKSMASHER 66
THE PIGEON-ROOST 82
" GOOD-MORNIN', LADIES" 107
ESCAPE FROM THE WHALE 131
THE EELS 146
THE FIRE-HUNT 157
THE WEDDING 181
THE WINDSOR CHAIR 215
TARE AND TRET 247
HAM RACHEL, OF ALABAMA 266
SCENES AND CHARACTERS.
I.— DESCRIPTION OF THE COUNTRY.
The scenes and stories found in this work
were enacted and told between the years
1820 and 1829. Some description of the
wonderful country where such striking scenes
were acted and such marvelous stories were
told, and of the men who figured prominent-
ly in them, is imperatively demanded. I
fi"ankly confess, however, that I am utterly
incapable of doing the subjects ample jus-
tice. But an effort must be made ; apolo-
gies will not do ; so I address myself to the
important and mighty task, and hope that
the united world will return me a vote of
thanks for rescuing from Oblivion's fell
grasp such important items in the history
of our country.
Surry County is one of the northwestern
counties of North Carolina, and joins Gray-
14 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
son, Carroll, and Patrick counties, Virginia.
These scenes are laid in tlie extreme north-
western part of this county. It is a roman-
tic section, and produces a people equally
romantic. The highest part of the majestic
Blue Ridge, a branch of the great Alleghany,
stands in bold view, overlooking the whole
country. From its base flow many crystal
streams as cold as ice-water can be made in
southern cities. Some of them are dignified
with the name of "river." Tlius there are
"Mitcheirs River," "Big Fisher's River,"
and "Little Fisher's River;" and of creeks
there are "Stewart's Creek," "Ring's Creek,"
"Beaver Dam Creek," and so forth. All
these streams, with branches and springs con-
stantly pouring into them, after running a
short and swift course, precipitate themselves
into the pure, clear, and rapid Yadkin. Near
the foot of the Blue Ridge, on its spurs and
ridges, and on those rivers and creeks, lived
the heroes whose wondrous feats and stories
are recorded in the following pages.
But "Shipp's Muster-Ground," on Ring's
Creek, lying between Big Fisher's and Lit-
DESCRIPTION OF THE COUNTRY. I5
tie Fisher's Rivers, being the common centre
of rendezvous for the whole country, I choose
to call my work "Fisher's River Scenes
AND Characters." These two rivers took
their names from the loftiest peak of the Blue
Ridge chain of the Alleghany, called "Fish-
er's Peak." It is a peak of overwhelming
beauty and grandeur. It was named after
Colonel Daniel Fisher, who ran the line be-
tween Virginia and North Carolina to the
top of this peak. The line crosses this lofty
point near its centre. The tradition of the
country says — and I suppose it is correct —
that, Mr. Fisher being a fleshy man, the as-
cent of the mountain overcame him ; he fell
sick, died, and was buried on its height.
From the top of Fisher's Peak one has an
unsurpassed view, east, west, north, and,
south, of mountain piled upon mountain, lift-
ing their heads high in the immense blue
horizon far as the eye can take in an object,
strengthened and assisted by the clear and
pure atmosphere of that elevated region. If
heathen mythology were true, this might
have been the place where giants piled
IQ FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
mountain upon mountain to scale the walls
of heaven. Then "knobs" of lesser size
more modestly lift up their heads to aid and
swell the grand variety, while hills and ridges
assist the spectator to gradually descend to
small valleys, river and creek bottoms, where
now and then may be seen small farms, cab-
ins, and houses. But the view is indescrib-
ably grand, and I shall attempt no farther
description of it. One must see it to realize
Near the base of the mountain, and a few
miles east, south, and southwest of it, lived a
healthy, hardy, honest, uneducated set of pi-
oneers, unlike, in many respects, any set of
pioneers that ever peopled any other portion
of the Lord's globe. They came mostly from
Virginia, and a portion of them from the
middle and lower parts of North Carolina,
and a few from other sections — a sufficient
number from all parts to make a singular
and pleasing variety. The emigrants from
Virginia furnished exceptions to the general
claims of Virginians, most of whom claim to
belong to the "first families;" but it was
DESCRIPTION OF THE COUNTRY. 17
honor enough for them that they came from
"Fudginny." This section was settled be-
tween the years 1770 and 1780. They had
stirring times during the Kevolution. The
early settlers were pretty equally divided be-
tween Whigs and Tories. A majority were
probably Tories, but the Whigs, headed by a
few daring spirits, held the Tories in check,
and drove them to the mountain fastnesses.
Many thrilling incidents could be narrated,
but that is not my business in these sketches.
Well do I remember hearing the old soldiers
of the Revolution tantalize the Tories and
A large portion of these early settlers
were wholly uneducated, and the rest of them
had but a rude and imperfect rudimental ed-
ucation. Each settler brought with him the
rustic vernacular of his native section, and
held on to it with great tenacity, thus mak-
ing a common stock of the richest unwritten
rustic literature that ever graced any com-
munity. They had no use for grammar nor
for grammarians ; they had no dictionaries ;
what few literary questions arose among
18 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
them were decided by Mesliack Franklin, for
lie was the only well-educated man in the
community, and had been to Congress. Jes-
se Franklin, for several years United States
Senator, and afterward Governor of North
Carolina, lived and died here. For his op-
portunities, he was the greatest man North
Carolina has ever produced. But with most
of the people a rifle, shot-pouch, butcher-knife,
and an article they dubbed " knock-'em-stiff "
were of vastly more importance than "lari>
jn' ;" while the younger ones preferred the
sound of the "fiddle," a " seven-handed reel,"
and " Old Sister Phebe" to a log-pole school-
house. Yet, for all this, they were a clever
folk, and one raised among them, who knows
their worth every way, has ventured to re-
cord some few of their deeds of daring.
It is emphatically a "poor man's coun-
try." There is but little good land in it.
All the valuable land lies on the small riv-
ers and creeks, in very narrow bottoms. No
rich man will ever be tempted to live there.
But, notwithstanding their long, cold winters
and poor lands, the inhabitants, by hard labor
DESCRIPTION OF THE COUNTRY. 19
and by the most rigid economy, live well.
All extravagance, however, is necessarily ex-
cluded, and the people make the greater part
of their own apparel, material and all.
Money is very scarce, and corrupting fash-
ions seldom reach them. That is one place
where Paris, London, and Broadway seldom
reach. I visited them in 1857, and found
"sacks" and "joseys" in full fashion.
But the reader is tired, I fear, of this pre-
lude, if he has read it at all. A long intro-
duction to a book is treated as unceremoni-
ously as a long grace at table when men are
hungry. It is like a green field to a starv-
ing horse when the fence is sorry. But
what has been said is essential to what fol-
lows, and if I have erred it has been in be-
ing too brief.
20 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
n.— "FAMIJS OR NO FAMUS."
Fisher's River was one of tlie last places
for the importance of militia musters, in the
expressive language of that section, "to give
up the ghost." I account for it from the
fact that a few old Revolutionary soldiers
lived in the community, and kept the "mil-
iteer sperit" always at blood heat in the ris-
Their musters were semi-annual, held in
May and November, and the old "Revolu-
tionaries" were ever present. The "cap-
ting," "leftenant," "sargint" — all the "os-
siffers" — were proud to perform "revolu-
tions" before them. " They knowed a thing
or two about militeer tacktucks, just as well
as old Steuben ur Duane tharselves." And
the "cap'en" never thought for once of giv-
ing the word "Right face! dismissed!" till
they were gravely reviewed by the "old so-
"FAMUS OR NO FAMUS." • 21
There was another matter of powerful at-
traction to the old " Xutionaries" and the
'"Litia" — the "knock-'em-stiff" — ^that was
as punctual in attendance as any of the
"patriots." "Nigger Josh Easley" with
his "gingy cakes," and Hamp Hudson with
his "licker," were men and things as much
looked for as "Capting Moore with his mil-
Hamp Hudson was the only man in that
whole country who kept a "still-house" run-
ning all the year ; the weaker ones would
"run dry." Of course, Hamp and his still-
house, and all the "appurtenances thereof,"
were well known to the whole country.
Hamp also had a noted dog, named "Fa-
mus," as famous for being in the distillery
as Hamp himself, and quite as well known
in that entire region as his master.
Now it came to pass in the course of hu-
man and dog events that Famus fell into a
"mash- tub" and was drowned. It was
"narrated" all through the country "that
Famus was drownded in a mash-tub, and
Hamp had distilled the beer in which Fa-
mus was drownded, and was gwine to carry
22 • FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
it to the May muster to sell/' This report
produced a powerful sensation in the com-
munity, and was the only topic of conversa-
tion. All appeared to believe it, and there
was a general determination "not to drink
one drap uv Hamp's nasty old Famus
The auspicious muster -day arrives, and
the people collect from Stewart's Creek,
Ring's Creek, Beaver Dam, Big Fisher s and
Little Fisher's Rivers, from the "Hollow,"
"the Foot uv the Mounting" — from the Dan
to the Beersheba of that whole country. I,
too, was there — though but a lad, deeply in- :
terested in the action of that important day
— to see who would triumph, Hamp and
Famus, or an indignant community.
As soon as they collect they meet in little
squads to debate the grave question. The
old " Bevolutioners" are there, and their
sage counsels decide all questions. "They
font for our liberties, and they must be
hearn." "Uncle Jimmy Smith," a leading
man among them, particularly on "licker
questions," makes a speech to the crowd just
"FAMUS OR NO FAMUS." 23
before Cap'en Moore tells the "orderly sar-
gint" to "form ranks." Uncle Jimmy lisps,
but he is clearly understood by his waiting
and attentive audience. They are "spell-
bound" by his nervous and patriotic elo-
quence. What if he has a slight impediment
in his speech? his eloquence is in his sub-
ject. Hear him:
"Now, boyith, I'm an old man — wath at
the storming uv Stony Pint, under old ' Mad
Anthony Wayne,' ath we boyith allers called
him ; and IVe marched and countermarched
through thick and thin ; hath fout, bled, and
died nairly for seven long years ; I hath
theen many outrages, but thith Famus busi-
ness caps the stack and saves the grain.
Jist think uv thith feller, Hamp Hudson, to
'still the beer uv that mash-tub that Famus
— that nathty, stinkin', mangy dog — was
drownded in ; and fur to think fur to bring
it here fur to thell the nathty, stinkin' whis-
ky to hith neighbors, Cap'en Moore and com-
pany, and to the old sogers, what fout for
yer libertith. I tell you, boyith, you can do
ath you pleath, but old Jimmy Smith — old
Stony Pint — ain't a-gwine to tech it ! "
24 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
' ' Nur I ! " " Nur I, Uncle Jimmy ! " shout-
The voice of the sergeant is now heard like
a Blue Ridge cataract :
"0-yis! o-yis! The hour of muster have
arrove ! O-yis ! All uv ye what blongs to
Cap'en Moore's company, parade here ! Fall
inter ranks right smart, and straight as a
gun-bar'l, and dress to the right and left, ac-
cordin' to the militeer tacktucks laid down
by Duane in his cilebrated work on that fust
of all subjecks."
They fall into ranks with precision, order,
dignity, and gravity, prompted by their pa-
triotism. Besides, the old "'Lutionary so-
gers" are looking at them.
Cap'en Moore now appears in his old-
fashioned uniform, worn probably by some
"'Lutionary cap'en" in many a bloody fight.
'Tis an odd-looking affair; the collar of it
repulses his "ossifer hat" from the top of
his "hade;" the tail, long and forked, strik-
ing his hams at every step, and two great
rusty epaulets on his shoulders — enough to
weigh down a man of less patriotic spirit,
and on a less patriotic occasion.
"FAMUS OR NO FAMUS." 25
Thus equipped, "as the law directs," he
commences the "drill accordin' to Duane."
I had seen every muster on that patriotic
spot from the time I was able to get there
and to eat a "gingy cake," but never had I
seen as poor a one as that was. There was
no spirit nor life in the "militeer." Instead
of following Duane, they were whispering
and talking about Hamp and Famus. In-
deed, they greatly needed the inspiration of
Hamp's barrel. Cap'en Moore bawled till he
was hoarse; his "leftenant" and "sargint"
were exhausted, but it all did no good. They
performed no "revolutions" according to
Duane, Steuben, nor any other author ex-
tant. The old " Revolutioners" could ren-
der them no assistance, and in despair the
"cap ting" dismissed them, in deep mortifi-
But where are Hamp and Famus all this
time ? Yonder he sits, under the shade of a
large apple-tree, solitary and alone, astride
of his whisky-barrel.
It is now one o'clock P.M., and his chances
look bad ; his whisky-barrel has not been
tapped, nor has any man dared to approach
26 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
his condemned head-quarters. "Old Nigger
Josh Easley" has sold all his "gingy cakes,"
and is showing his big white teeth, rejoicing
at his unparalleled success. Josh is the only
joyful man on the "grit." The rest are all
melancholy, standing or sitting in little
squads, debating the mash-tub question.
Hamp is quite composed, and his looks say,
"Never mind, gentlemen. 111 sell you every
drap uv my licker yit."
Two o''clock arrives, and no one approach-
es Hamp's apple-tree. His prospects are
growing worse. But look yonder! The
crowd has collected around Uncle Jimmy
Smith. Let us approach and hear him :
"Well, boyith, I don't know tho well
about thith matter. Maybe weVe accused
thith feller, Hamp, wrongfully. He hath
allers been a clever feller, and ith a pity ef
he ith innercent uv thith charge. The fact
ith, boyith, it's mighty dull, dry times;
nuthin's a-gwine on right. Boyith, you are
free men. I font for your freedom. I thay,
boyith, you can do ath yon pleath, but ath
fur me, old Stony Pint Jimmy Smith, Fa-
mus 07' no Fainus, T must take a little.'"'
"FAMUS OR NO FAMUS." £7
The speech of Uncle Jimmy was satisfac-
tory and moving. His audience was not
"spell-bound," for they moved up to Hamp's
head-quarters with a "double-quick step;"
the "barl" was tapped, "Famus or no Fa-
mus," by the generous Hamp, who never re-
proached them for their severe accusations.
Soon the condemned barrel was emptied, the
money was in Hamp's pocket, and he was
merry as " Gingy-cake Josh."
Uncle Jimmy soon began to sing his Rev-
olutionary ditties, spin his yarns, and was
happy enough. Cap'en Moore, "leftenant"
and "sargint," soon forgot their hard day's
work. The "'Litia" and others fell to dis-
cussing questions of great moment; but the
whole affair ended in skinned noses, gouged
eyes, and bruised heads. That was a Famus
day in the annals of "Shipp's Muster-
28 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
III.— JOHNSON SNOW.
Of all the men in that romantic and pic-
tm^esque country, I must yield the palm, in
many respects, to Johnson Snow.
He was one of the oldest settlers of Stew-
art's Creek, near its head, and Avithin a few
miles of the "Flour Gap" of the Blue Ridge.
"Johnson," for so he was always familiarly
called, had not the advantages of even a
Dilworth's Spelling -Book education. He
had learned the common vernacular of the
country, with a few additional eccentricities
of his own, but he "axed nobody no boot,
and could weed his own row, and keep it
clean too — that's sartin."
Look at him, and you will believe every
word of it, and more too.
He is about five feet six inches high, well
set, muscularly and powerfully made ; but
he is good-humored, wears a generous face,
and has a warm heart. Well for the "Stew-
JOHNSON SNOW. 29
art's Creek Suckers'" tlat he was a good-na-
tured man. He is also fond of good eating,
and shows his keeping.
There was a long line of kings in Egypt
that went by the common name of "Ptole-
my," and to distinguish one Ptolemy from
another the people and historians appended
an adjunct expressive of the character or
habits of each monarch. One of them was
called "Ptolemy Physcon," or "Tunbelly."
And to distinguish Johnson Snow from the
numerous Snows that lived in that region,
and to give the reader some idea of the effects
of a good appetite, he might with great pro-
priety be called Tunbelly Johnson Snow.
Two things he was particularly fond of, and
upon which he flourished whenever he could
get them — turnip greens and "hog's gul-
licks," the " Adam's apple" of a hog's haslet,
or the "google," as it is commonly called.
Johnson had departed from all technicali-
ties, and called it "gullick."
Hog-killing time was a glorious time with
Johnson — equal to herring time with sea-
board North Carolinians. At meals he
would say to his wife Patsey, after "sweep-
so FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
in' the platter" of the gullicks and turnip
greens already on his rude, crossed-legged
"Hello, Patsey ! God love your soul ! is
there any more gullicks and greens in the
pot ? If there is, God love your soul, Pat-
sey! git 'um fur me."
I will add that he would help all his
neighbors kill hogs for the "gullicks."
There was an arch, provoking smile ever
playing upon his full face, which would at-
tract attention in any crowd, and mark him
out as a "rare bird" in any community. He
had, moreover, a fund of sharp, provoking
wit, running into satire when necessary, which
Johnson maintained "were worth more than
all yer college lingO, a plaguy sight." His
waggish wit was a terror to the whole coun-
try. Woe to the man who happened to fall
into some ludicrous mishap ! He never
heard the last of it from Johnson. He had
"a rig" on nearly every man. Invulnerable
himself, in one scrape only was he "cotched"
— at Bellow's meeting — as you shall soon
S Johnson Snow was a necessary append-
JOHNSON SNOW. gj
age at every public gathering. " Licker"
was at them all, and he loved it as a thirsty
OX does pond-water. The fact is, it sharp-
ened his wit, and he would indulge freely for
that additional reason.
He had a peculiar way of prefacing his
weightiest sentences Avith a short word, ut-
tered twice in a guttural manner, clearing up
his throat, or his "gullick," as he would
term ,it, just before uttering them. Henry
VIII. and Johnson Snow used the same
short, expressive, and significant word,
though their pronunciation, action, and man-
ner were quite diiFerent. When King Hen-
ry used his ha ! men might walk a chalk-
line ; when Johnson uttered his", some one
might look out.
For instance, when he was where "candi-
dites" for the " Legi slater" were treating for
votes, he would say,
"Ha! ha! boys, let's take some uv the
knock-'em-stiff, fur I can't half talk to these
gentlemen candidites till I'm 'bout half
Soon Johnson would have first one then
another of the "candidites" aside, "borin'
32 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
them fur the holler horn" to their hearts'
He now lets fly his provoking gibes in ev-
ery direction, striking one, then another, pro-
ducing all the time peals of laughter from
all except himself. In this he resembled
Dean Swift. The man that laughs hearti-
est Johnson turns upon him and he is "sei-
sorified.'" A physician dares to laugh, and
he ' ' cotches it" thus :
"Ha! ha! hello. Doctor Oglesby, how
do you come on killin' folks ? You d better
be laughin' t'other side o' yer mouth, and
down on yer knees a-prayin\ Ef I'd a kilt
as many folks as you, wid yer callomy and
jollermy, I'd now, instid o' laughin', be on
the yeth, in sackcloth and ashes. Ha ! ha !
look a here, Doctor Oglesby, where do you
bury yer dade? It's a bully grave-yard by
this time, I s'pose. When you a-gwine to
add any more yeth to it?"
But the above is as much space as I can
give my tunbellied, merry, and illustrious
Stewart's Creek hero by way of introduction,
and will now bring him on the stage in a
few acts and scenes.
JOHNSON SNOW g'^
The first act and the first scene was at
THE NIGHT MEETING.
Johnson Snow had the bump of curiosity
' ' I want to know suthin uv every thing
that's a-gwine on. I'll be smashed inter pie-
crust — yes, inter a million o' giblets, afore
ril be as ignunt as some jewkers ! Ha ! ha !
I've hearn uv this feller Beller's shoutin'
night meetin's, and I'm a-gwine to one on
With such aspiring feelings as the above,
our Stewart's Creek hero "moseyed" off,
"three sheets in the breeze," to one of Par-
son Bellow's night meetings.
In rawrhide " stitched-down shoes," he
stood six feet four inches. He was raw-
boned, long-faced, pug-nosed, and. wide-
mouthed. In size, small men were no more
to him than Liliputians were to Captain
Gulliver. A mountain "boomer," dressed
in a linsey hunting-shirt down to his knees,
with a leather band round his waist, a tow
and cotton shirt, dressed buckskin pants,
with a few other things of minor importance,
34 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES,
made up the uniform, the surplice and gown,
of the Rev. Mr. Bellow.
We will now "mosey off" with Johnson
to the "night meetin','^ and see what hap-
pens, for there is always music where our
jolly hero goes.
Our "leather-britches parson" had a re-
vival going on, and there was quite "a stir"
among the people, for he made his mark as
well as Johnson. Johnson staggers in, and
with a good deal of difficulty takes his seat.
Bellow commences "the sarvices," and,
notwithstanding his powerful voice, quite in
harmony with his name — despite of an occa-
sional stamp with his big snake-killing foot,
enough to break through any other than a
puncheon floor ; with now and then a heavy
blow upon the Bible with his herculean fist,
and often a keen, deafening pop with his
hands together, by way of variety — Johnson
goes fast to sleep, and snores grandiloquent-
Johnson seems to be opposing the par-
son's eloquence- — Bellow with his mouth,
hands, and feet, Johnson only with his nose.
The combat is not equal, but Johnson is
JOHNSON SNOW. 35
"one on 'um." Usually snorers have but
little variety in their music, and it is grating
and shocking to the nerves ; but not so with
our hero, for he has a great and pleasing va-
riety. He is as freakish, amusing, and as
interesting in snoring as in any other rela-
tion of life. There is nothing dull and mo-
notonous about the man. It puts one in a
good humor to look at him.
The rivalry lasted for some time, and vic-
tory appeared to be doubtful ; but at last
the parson triumphed. At the close of his
discourse — and a masterly effort it was —
there was a general shout all through the
congregation. Men and women mingled to-
gether, shouting and clapping their hands.
Johnson's nose eloquence was "nowhar."
At last some of them — it happened to be
women mostly — "crowded" Johnson, and
woke him up, and the first idea that entered
his "noggin"" was that he was in a general
"still-house" fight. He was so "slewed"
when he went in that he had forgotten all
his antecedents, and woke up, as he thought,
in a "ginVal row." He was no coward, and
he determined to "wade through 'um."
36 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
He rolled up his sleeves, clenched his fists,
"gritted" his teeth, and commenced:
"Ha! ha! what the devil you about
here? What you smackin' yer fists in my
face fur ? Ha ! ha ! ef you ar' 'umun, you'd
better skin yer eyes and look sharp. I don't
'low man nur 'umun to ^^op thar fists in my
face. No, by juckers ! Hello ! git out'n
the track here ! Rip shins and marrer
bones.! Wake snakes, the winter's broke !
Ha ! ha ! here's at you ! I can lick the
whole possercommertatus of yer afore you
can say Toney Lumpkins three times, by
Zucks ! Come on, yer cowards!"
By this time the people were quieted in
the shouting line, and began to leave the
house — some to laugh, but most of them
through fear — and every body was silent in
the house but Johnson. The cowardly re-
treat made him more furious than ever. He
shouted after them,
"Ha! ha! come back here ef you dare, and
face a brave man ! Look him plump in the
face and eyes a minnit, you cowardly vil-
luns ! You're a purty set uv ill-begotten,
turkey-trottin' pukes, to raise a quarrel with
'niE NU.llT MI.KTIM;
JOHNSON SNOW. 39
a peaceubble man, and then run like a gang
uv geese. Gone! gone, are you? Ha! ha!
IVe Glared the tan-yard ! I've clared the tan-
yard ! Hoo-pee ! "
Just here Johnson discovered that the
parson was the only man that maintained
his position. He marched up to him, with-
out the least respect for his reverence, and
said, "Ha! ha! Beller, you're the ringlead-
er uv all this devilment. You're the big-
gest rascal in this crowd. I can lick you,
sir, any day, any minnit."
Rubbing first one fist, then th? other, in
the parson's face, he continued :
' ' Smell uv yer master ! Smell uv yer mis-
tiss ! Smell uv yer master ! Smell uv yer
mistiss ! Ha ! ha ! no fight in you ? You're
a purty feller, to raise a row with a peace-
ubble man, and then won't fight it out!
Mosey ! Trollop ! Git out'n here, you
dinged old sloomy Yahoo !"
The parson, to get rid of his furious an-
tagonist, left the house, and Johnson was
left alone in his glory, having "clared the
40 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
HE JOINS THE CHURCH.
Not long after the foregoing act and scene,
Johnson had a spell of sickness that reduced
his abdominal dimensions considerably, and,
in his own expressive language, ' ' I got so I
couldn't eat nuther turnup greens nur hog's
gullicks, and like to a pegged out, and left Pat-
sey a poor reflicted widder upon this sinful,
villanus world — these mundanious shores uv
He reflected not a little on his past life,
more especially about that " night-meetin"'
scrape."" So, in a mellow state of feeling,
and with quite a penitent heart, he joined
Parson Bellow's church. There was great
rejoicing by the class at this "triumph of
grace" — at this "wonderful convarsion."
The great Goliath, who had defied Israel —
that Manasseh — that Saul of Tarsus — was
now a humble penitent and a devout "seek-
Johnson, being an ardent and enthusiastic
man any way, made pretty rapid progress in
his religious duties and life, and so encour-
JOHNSON SNOW. ^i
aged the class that they had serious thoughts
of procuring a license for him to preach ;
"fur," said Parson Bellow, "he sartinly has
a good gift in prayer, and thar mout be a
work fur him to do. He mout be the in-
strument to slay these Stewart's Creek sin-
One day, in class-meeting, Johnson "got
happy," and groaned, cried, shouted, and
"tuck on no little." Johnson Avould make
a "racket" any where; it was his "natur,
and he didn't b'lieve in squashin' natur."
Bellow was gratified, went to him, and in-
"How do you feel. Brother Snow?"
"Ha! ha! good — mighty good. Brother
Beller, and no mistake ! It beats creation
all holler ! Nothin' like it — not even hog's
gullicks. Knock-'em-stiff 's nowhar compared
unto it. Brethering and sistering, one an'
all, I'll give you my 'pinion, though not axed
fur it : a heap uv groanin', gobs uv shoutin'
and cryin', goes a grate ways toads settin'
off a meetin'. It's half the battle, sartin.
The old inimy has to tuck his tail and leave
when he hears it."
42 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
Johnson''s "first love" did not continue
sufficiently long for him to obtain a license
to preach; hence he never "held forth," as
was confidently expected. He imprudently
went out to some public gathering, where
" candidites, " his old associates, were treat-
ing, got a scent of his old "inimy" knock-
'em-stiiF, tasted a little, and, some said, ' ' got
Be the charge true or false, he declined
rapidly in his religious duties, and it was
very afflictive to his preacher and class.
Bellow and the class did all they could to
keep him in duty's path, but all their efforts
signally failed. They never gave him up till
they heard, with much pain, his answers one
day to Parson Bellow in class-meeting.*
All the other members of the class had been
examined in the usual way, and had reported
favorably in regard to their religious pros-
5 * The author has no intention, in this sketch, to slur that
most excellent denomination of Christians among whom his
mother lived and died a pious member.
JOHNSON SNOW. 43
pects to the parson, and Johnson was the
last one that was examined. He had listen-
ed attentively to every one in their turn, with
looks of doubt and indignation, as they gave
an account of the "good work" in their
hearts, believing all the time, judging from
his looks, that they were "putting too much
paint in the brush." At last the parson
approached him, when the following ques-
tions were asked and answers were given :
"How do you come on. Brother Snowf"
asked the parson.
"I come on my feet," growled Johnson.
"But how do you feel. Brother Snow?"
" Ha ! ha ! nation hungry ! I want some
hog's gullicks and turnup greens right smack
now. Ef youVe got any on 'um, I'm fur
'um right off. It wouldn't hurt my feelin's
ef you'd draw a bottle o' knock-'em-stiff on
"But how do you feel in religious mat-
ters. Brother Snow I that's the question,"
"Ha! ha! deng shacklin, I tell you ! I
hain't a thimbleful o' religion, ef it was to
save yer neck from the gallows. I can't tell
44 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
as grate tales as the rest on ye here, nur I
ain't a-gwine to do it nuther. My chance is
mighty slim ; but I wouldn't swap it fur some
uv yourn and a mess o' turnup greens to
boot. Ax me no more questions, else I'll
settle the hash with you all quick. That
t'other time when I clared the tan-yard won't
be a primin' to it."
They took the hint, opened the door, and
let him out, and thus ended Johnson's relig-
THE INTERVIEW AND TRIUMPH.
Johnson Snow possessed, in addition to
his waggish wit, a good deal of "hard com-
mon sense like a hoss." He was rich in re-
sources and expedients, and seldom failed of
a triumph in times of emergency. In all
the "tight fits" and "tarnations snarls" he
got into, he would outfight, outquarrel, or
outwit; out he would come with "flyin'
He triumphed over one of the sternest
men in the community, as the following in-
cident will show.
There lived in the neighborhood a rigid
JOHNSON SNOW. 45
Baptist and great "Scriptorian," one of the
few men in that social region that would not
take some of the "good critter," but hated it
most cordially. His aversion went so far
that he would not let a drunken man tarry
with him for the night. He was highly re-
spected by all who knew him, even by the
worst drunkards, and bore two titles which
were quite honorable then and there. (This
was before Americans began to manufacture
and apply titles indiscriminately. ) He was
always addressed very respectfully as
"'Squire Charles Taliaferro*" and "Cap'en
Johnson knew him well, and was fully
aw^are of his hatred to his friend "Cap'en
Knock-'em-stiff;" butwhat ofthat? "Ha!
ha ! I'm ready for the old 'coon, cocked and
primed, and triggers sprung. I'll show him
he don't know uvry thing about Scripter
afore I'm done with him. This boy has
dipped into Scripter as well as still-houses,
sure as gun's iron."
These sentences were uttered by Johnson
at a "still-house," not long after he had quit
Parson Bellow's church. He had just made
46 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
a bet with some "jewkers" of a gallon of
apple brandy that he could stay all night
with "old Taliaferro, and could beat him all
holler, too, talkin' on Scrip ter."
Chuckling as above, he leaves a "still-
house*" one cold evening, "high up in the
picters," and arrived at Taliaferro's gate just
at sunset, altered his voice, and hallooed.
Taliaferro opened the door, and our hero com-
"Hellow, old Scripter ; I'm come to stay
all night with you. I want to talk all night
with you on Scripter. IVe hearn you was
a reg'lar built screamer in that way, and I
want to try my hand with you, sartin.
'Squire, I'll talk all round you. I'll ring-
fire you with Scripter. Ha ! ha ! see here,
cap'en, ef you lick me out, you can beat the
old Scripter-maker, sartin. I give you^ar
ivarnin\ No shirkin', now, sartin."
"You can not stay, Johnson," replied Tal-
iaferro. "Come when you are sober, and
you can stay a week, if you wish ; but a
drunken man shall not stay all night in my
"Don't be too fast, old 'coon," said John-
JOHNSON SNOW. 47
son; 'Til show you a trick ur two afore
I'm done, sartin. You Humph! you
Humph!" (calling a negro man named
Humphrey) ; "come here, you bandy-shank-
ed rascal, and take my hoss. Put him up,
and in the mornin', ef he ain't up to his eyes
in corn and fodder, I'll larrup you well.
Ha ! ha ! you b'longed to me once, you cat-
hamed puke, but I gulluped you down my
gullick in whisky, and sold you to this rich
man, Taliaferro, who's got too big fur his
britches, and won't let me stay all night
with him. But I'll show him I'm a huckle-
berry over his 'simmon, sartin."
Orders were obeyed ; the horse was taken,
and our Stewart's Creek hero walked to the
door and halted. He placed one foot on
the door-steps, his elbow upon his knee, his
chin in his hand, with a face as long as the
president of a club of Pharisees, and com-
menced his telling speech on "Scripter."
"Ha! ha! Taliaferro, I read uv you in
Scripter. You think I know nuthin' about
Scripter, but I'll show you afore I'm done.
I know and read of you in that holy book.
You're that rich man in the parrabul, which
48 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
you may find by sarching the 16th chapter of
Luke, that fared sumptoriously uvry day, and
I'm poor Lezzerus. That rich man wouldn't
let poor reflicted Lezzerus come into his house,
nur will you let me come into yourn nuther.
Don't you see the 'nalogy? But that rich
man died, and how was it with him, Talia-
ferro ? Be alarmed, sir ! Poor reflicted Lez-
zerus died, too, and how was it with him ?
Look into Abram's bosom ; see him restin'
thar, safe as a bar in a hollow tree in the
dead o' winter. Ah ! you'll see how it will
go with you and me in 'that day,' as Parson
Beller calls it. When I'm shinin' away in
Abram's bosom, like a piece uv new money,
where will you be, Taliaferro ? Don't Paul,
in Hebrews, tell you to be ' careful to enter-
tain strangejs — thereby some have entertain-
ed angels T What good does all yer Scrip-
ter readin' do j^ou, ef you don't 'ply it bet-
ter? You'd better be studyin' Gale's Al-
mynac, for the good it does you. Ha ! ha !
you won't let me come into yer house, and
even eat the crumbs what falls from your
table, now groanin' and screechin' under rich
dainties — maybe some hog's gullicks on it
JOHNSON SNOW. 49
too. Ill go out here" (leaving the door, and
affecting to weep), "and lie down in yer
fence corner, and let yer dogs come and lick
my sores. You'll see how it will go with us
in that day, sartin."
"Come back, Johnson," said Taliaferro,
"and stay all night. I acknowledge my-
self beaten for once in 'Scripter.*' You cer-
tainly got your lesson well while you were
in Bellow's church."'
50 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
lY.— UNCLE DAVY LANE.
I MUST not forget, in these random sketch-
es, my old friend and neighbor Uncle Davy
Lane. Some men make an early and de-
cided impression upon you — features, actions,
habits, all the entire man, real and artificial.
"Uncle Davy" Avas that kind of man.
I will mention a few things that make me
remember him. His looks were peculiar.
He was tall, dark, and rough-skinned ; lym-
phatic, dull, and don't-care-looking in his
whole physiognomy. He had lazy looks
and movements. Nothing could move him
out of a slow, horse-mill gait but snakes, of
which "creeturs he Avas monstrous Yraid."
The reader shall soon have abundant evi-
dence of the truth of this admission in his
numerous and rapid flights from " sarpunts."
Uncle Davy was a gunsmith, and, as an
evidence of the fact, he carried about with
him the last gun he ever made. His gun, a
UNCLE DAVY LANE. 5I
rifle, was characteristic of its maker and own-
er — rough and unfinished outside, but good
within. It was put in an old worm-eaten
half-stock which he had picked up some-
where, and the barrel had never been dressed
nor ground outside. He would visit a neigh-
bor early in the morning, sit down with his
rifle across his knees, in "too great a hurry"
to set it aside, would stay all day, would lay
it by only at meals, which he seldom refused,
but "never was a-hongry."
He had a great fund of long-winded sto-
ries and incidents, mostly manufactured by
himself — some few he had "hearn" — and
would bore you or edify you, as it might turn
out, from sun to sun, interspersing them now
and then with a dull, guttural, lazy laugh.
He became quite a proverb in the line of
big story-telling. True, he had many obsti-
nate competitors, but he distanced them all
farther than he did the numerous snakes
that "run arter him." He had given his
ambitious competitors fair warning thus :
"Ef any on'um beats me, Til sell out ray
deadnin^ and hustle off to other deadnin's."
In sheer justice to Uncle Daw, however,
52 ^ FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
and with pleasure I record the fact, that he
reformed his life, became a Christian, I hope,
as well as a Baptist, and died a penitent
As stated, he was never known to get out
of a snail's gallop only when in contact with
snakes; and the reader shall now have, in
Uncle Davy's own style, an account of his
flight from a coachwhip snake.
"I had a hog claim over beyant Moor's
Fork, and I concluded I'd take old Buck-
smasher (his rifle), and go inter the big
huckleberry patch, on Bound Hill, in sarch
for 'um. Ofi* I trolloj)ed, and toddled about
for some time, but couldn't find head nur
tail uv 'um. But while I was moseyin'
about, I cum right chug upon one uv the
biggest, longest, outdaciousest coachwhip
snakes I uver laid my peepers on. He
rared right straight up, like a May-pole,
licked out his tarnacious tongue, and good
as said, ' Here's at you, sir. What bizness
have you on my grit T Now I'd hearn folks
UNCLE DAVY I.ANE. 53
say ef you'd look a vinimus animil right
plump in the eyes he wouldn't hurt you.
Now I tried it good, just like I were trying
to look through a mill-stone. But, bless you,
honey ! he had no more respect fur a man's
face and eyes than he had fur a huckleberry,
sure's gun's iron. So I seed clearly that I'd
have to try my trotters.
"I dashed down old Bucksmasher, and
jumped 'bout ten steps the fust leap, and on
I went wusser nur an old buck fur 'bout a
quarter, and turned my noggin round to look
fur the critter. Jehu Nimshi ! thar he were
right dab at my heels, head up, tongue out,
and red as a nail-rod, and his eyes like two
balls uv fire, red as chain lightnin'. I 'creased
my verlocity, jumped logs twenty foot high,
clarin' thick bushes, and bush-heaps, deep gul-
lies, and branches. Again I looked back,
thinkin' I had sartinly left it a long gap be-
hind. And what do you think? By jin-
go! he'd hardly begun to run — jist gittin'
his hand in. So I jist put flatly down again
faster than uver. 'Twasn't long afore I run
out'n my shot-bag, I went so fast, then out'n
my shirt, then out'n my britches — luther
54 FISHER'W RIVER SKETCHES.
britches at that — then away went my draw-
ers. Thus I run clean out*'n all my linnen
a half a mile afore I got home ; and, thinks
I, surely the tarnul sarpunt are distanced
"But what do you think now? Nebu-
chadnezzar ! thar he were, fresh as a mount-
ing buck jist scared up. I soon seen that
wouldn't do, so I jumped about thirty-five
foot, screamed like a wildcat, and 'creased ray
verlocity at a monstrous rate. Jist then I
begun to feel my skin split, and, thinks I,
it's no use to run out'n my skin, like I have
out'n my linnen, as huming skin are scarce,
so I tuck in a leetle.
"But by this time I'd run clean beyant
my house, right smack through my yard,
scaring Molly and the childering, dogs, cats,
chickens — uvry thing — half to death. But,
you see, I got shet uv my inimy, the sar-
punt, fur it had respect fur my house, ef it
hadn't fur my face and eyes in the woods.
I puffed, and blowed, and sweated 'bout half
an hour afore I had wind to tell Molly and
the childering what were the matter.
"Poor old Bucksmasher staid several
UNCLE DAVY LANE. 55
days in the woods afore I could have the
pluck to go arter him."
When Uncle Davy told one snake story,
he must needs exhaust his stock, big and
little. After breathing a little from telling
his coachwhip story, which always excited
him, he would introduce and tell the story
of his adventure with
"Fur some time arter I were chased by
that sassy coachwhip, I were desput Yraid
uv snakes. My har would stand on eend,
stiff as hog's bristles, at the noise uv uvry
lizzard that ran through the leaves, and my
flesh would jerk like a dead beef's.
"But at last I ventured to go into the
face uv the Kound Peak one day a-huntin\
I were skinnin'' my eyes fur old bucks, with
my head up, not thinkin' about sarpunts,
when, by Zucks! I cum right plum upon
one uv the curiousest snakes I uver seen in
all my borned days. •
"Fur a spell I were spellbound in three
foot uv it. There it lay on the side uv a
56 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
steep presserpis, at full length, ten foot long,
its tail strait out, right up the presserpis,
head big as a sasser, right toards me, eyes
red as forked lightnin', lickin' out his forked
tongue, and I could no more move than the
Ball Rock on Fisher's Peak. But when I
seen the stinger in his tail, six inches long
and sharp as a needle, stickin"* out like a
cock's spur, I thought I'd a drapped in my
tracks. I'd ruther a had uvry coachwhip
on Round Hill arter me en full chase than
to a bin in that drefful siteation.
"Thar I stood, petterfied with relarm —
couldn't budge a peg — couldn't even take old
Bucksmasher off uv my shoulder to shoot
the infarnul thing. Nyther uv us moved
nor bolted 'ur eyes fur fifteen minits.
"At last, as good luck would have it, a
rabbit run close by, and the snake turned its
eyes to look what it were, and that broke
the charm, and I jumped forty foot down the
mounting, and dashed behind a big white oak
five foot in diamatur. The snake he cotched
the 'eend uv his tail in his mouth, he did,
and come rollin' down the mounting arter
me jist like a hoop, and jist as I landed be-
UNCLE DAVY LANE. 57
hind the tree he struck t'other side with his
stinger, and stuv it up, clean to his tail,
smack in the tree. He were fast.
"Of all the hissin' and bio win' that uver
you hearn sense you seen daylight, it tuck
the lead. Ef there'd a bin forty-nine forges
all a-blowin' at once, it couldn't a beat it.
He rared and charged, lapped round the tree,
spread his mouf and grinned at me orful,
puked and spit quarts an' quarts of green pi-
sen at me, an' made the ar stink with his nas-
"I seen thar were no time to lose; I
cotched up old Bucksmasher from whar I'd
dashed him down, and tried to shoot the
tarnil thing; but he kep' sich a movin'
about and sich a splutteration that I couldn't
git a bead at his head, for I know'd it warn't
wuth while to shoot him any whar else. So
I kep' my distunce tell he wore hisself out,
then I put a ball right between his eyes, and
he gin up the ghost.
"Soon as he were dead I happened to
look up inter the tree, and what do you
think ? Why, sir, it were dead as a herrin' ;
all the leaves was wilted like a fire had gone
through its branches.
58 FISHEK'S RIVER SKETCHES.
"I left the old feller with his stinger in
the tree, thinkin' it were the best place fur
him, and moseyed home, 'tarmined not to go
out agin soon.
"Now folks may talk as they please 'bout
there bein' no sich things as horn-snakes,
but what I've seen I've seen, and what I've
jist norated is true as the third uv Mathy.
" I mout add that I passed that tree three
weeks arterwards, and the leaves and the
whole tree was dead as a door-nail. '
Uncle Davy's mind was trained in a sort
of horse-mill track, and would pass from one
story to another with great naturalness and
ease. No sooner was he done with the horn-
snake rencounter, after giving you time to use
some word of astonishment, note of exclama-
tion — some sign of approbation or disappro-
bation, it made but little odds which — he
would commence the story of
THE RATTLESNAKE BITE.
"I thort my sarpunt difficulties was sar-
tinly ended arter that desput horn-snake
scrape ; but hush, honey ! they'd jist begun.
UNCLE DAVY LANE. 59
T'other two was jist little frightnin's ; this
that I'm a-gwine to narrate was a sure-
enough bite. He waded inter me far enufF.
It happened arter this fashion :
" I knowed whar thar was a mighty nice
blackberry patch, 'bout a mile from home.
I 'tarmined to have a bait out'n 'um, and
some on 'um for Molly to make a pie out'n,
fur I'm mighty fond uv blackberry pies —
nothin' nicer, 'ceptin' a raal North Carolina
puddin'. So off I piked to the old field
whar they was. I didn't 'spect to see any
old bucks to smash, so I didn't take old
Bucksmasher with me that time, which I
nairly always done, nur did I — lack-a-day ! —
know what were to befall me that drefful,
"I 'riv on the spot in the cool uv the
evenin', which it were mighty hot weather,
waded into 'um without ceremony ur inter-
duction, and eat a bushel on 'um afore I
picked any fur the family. Last I seen a
monstrous big brier full uv great big 'uns,
big as hen's eggs. I were so taken with 'um,
with my head as high as ef I was looking at
the stars, I went up, and, says I to myself.
00 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES,
' 111 soon hev my basket full uv these mas-
ter fellers ; they'll make bully pies, '
"I were pickin' away hard as I could
clatter, barefooted as the day I were horned,
when I felt suthin rakin' my feet wusser
than sawbriers. But I picked on, and nuver
looked down to see what were the matter,
thinking all the time it were briers. But it
got wusser and wusser till it were no use.
1 looked down to see what were the matter,
and what do you think? Why, thar were
the biggest rattlesnake that uver were seen
or hearn tell on — would a filled a washin''-tub
to the brim. There he were peggin' away at
my feet and legs like he were the hongriest
critter on yeth.
"I jist let all holts go, and begun to jump
right up and down, full thirty foot high, fur
a dozen times, I reckon, screamin' like an
Injun, allers lightin' in an inch uv the same
place. Ev'ry time I'd strike the yeth the
cussed sarpunt would peg away at me. At
last the spell were broke, and I moseyed
home at an orful rate. It's no use to say
how fast I did run, fur nobody would bleeve
it, but I can say in truth, the runnin' from
UNCLE DAVY LANE. (Jl
the coachwhip warn't a primin"' to it. No,
"Now I'd hearn that sweet milk were a
mighty remedy fur snake-bites, and, as good
luck would have it, Molly and the childer-
ing had jist got home from the cuppen* with
the milk of seven master cows to give milk,
and I, without sayin' a word, drunk down
uvry drap uv it. They looked mighty curi-
ous at me. Soon I got monstrous sick, and
commenced puking at an orful rate. Up
come milk and blackberries, all mixed up
together, makin' a relarmin' mess to the fam-
ily. They begun to beller and squall like
ten thousand Injuns were arter 'um and
skelpin' on 'um, and me so sick I couldn't
say a word. I thort in my soul I should
puke up the bottoms of my feet. No poor
little mangy pig uver hove and set at a 'ta-
ter-hill wusser nur I did. When I'd hulled
out uvry thing innardly, I run to the whis-
ky-kag, snatched it up, and landed at least
two gallons down me. This were the king
V cure-all. I went to sleep in less than no
time, nuver said a word to any on 'um, and
(52 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
waked up next mornin' ready fur breakfust,
and eat more'n common, seein' I Avere tollu-
Uncle Davy has one more "sarpunt sto-
ry," which I will not let him tell now, but
will reserve it for his last story. I will now
give the reader, for the sake of variety, some
of his hunting feats and stories, which will
show him to have been a hero in that an-
cient and honorable occupation.
We have it from ancient and the best au-
thority that "Nimrod was a mighty hunter
before the Lord." Uncle Davy was a sec-
ond Nimrod at least. To allow Uncle Davy
to decide the question, the Eastern hunter,
Nimrod, who has been deified as Hercules
for his wondrous feats, has been immeasura-
bly eclipsed by the Western hunter, the
Fisher's River Davy Lane. Hercules hunt-
ed with a club ; Uncle Davy with old Buck-
smasher. Hercules was doomed to hunt
and perform his feats ; Uncle Davy did his
without compulsion. Poets and historians
have sung and told the stories of Hercules ;
Uncle Davy tells his oAvn stories. A fruit-
^ UNCLE DAVY LANE. g3
ful imagination could run the analogy end-
lessly ; but I shut down upon it.
I shall not record a tithe of the hunting
stories of my Western Hercules, for they
would make a ponderous volume. Only a
few samples of the many shall be given ;
and I here take occasion to express the sin-
cere hope that my countrymen will never re-
turn to such a state of barbarism as to deify
our Fisher's Hiver hero, as the ancients did
Hercules, and make for him a mythology
out of these imperfect records ; for I now
testify to all coming generations that Uncle
Davy Lane was but a mortal man, and has
been gathered to his fathers for several years.
But excuse this digression : my plea is, The
importance of the subject demanded it.
I will give but s^feiv of my hero's stories,
and will begin, without being choice, with
THE FAST-EUNNING' BUCK.
"Now I'd smashed up so many master
old bucks 'bout Fisher's Gap, Blaze Spur,
Flour Gap, clean round to Ward's Gap,* I
'eluded they mout be gittin' scass, and I'd
* Different crossing-places of the Blue Ridge.
64 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
let 'um rest a spell, and try my luck in oth-
er woods; so I toddled off to the Sugar
"Now I know'd it were the time uv year
fur old bucks to be hard nin' thar horns, so
I tuck the sunny side uv the Sugar Loaf. I
kep' my eyes skinned all the way up, but
nuver seen any thing tell I got nairly to the
top, when up jumped one uv the poxtakedest
biggest old bucks you uver seen. He dash-
ed round the mounting faster nur a shootin'
star ur lightnin'. But, howsomever, I blazed
away at him, but he were goin** so fast round
the Loaf, and the bullet goin' strait forrud,
I missed him. Ev'ry day fur a week I went
to that spot, allers jumped him up in ten
steps uv the same place, would fire away,
but allers missed him, as jist norated.
"I felt that my credit as a marksman, and
uv old Bucksmasher, was gittin' mighty un-
der repair. I didn't like to be outgineraled
in any sich a way by any sich a critter.
I could smash bucks anywhar and any
time, but that sassy rascal, I couldn't tech a
* A lofty peak of the Blue Ridge, running up in a beautiful
conical form, resembling a sugar-loaf.
UNCLE DAVY LANE.
har on him. He were a perfect dar-devil.
One whole night I didn't sleep a Avink —
didn't bolt my eyes — fixin' up my plan.
Next mornin' I went right smack inter my
blacksmith shop, tuck my hammer, and bent
old Bucksmasher jist to suit the mounting, so
that when the pesky old buck started round
the mounting the bullet mout take the twist
with him, and thus have a far shake in the
"I loadened up, and moseyed off to try
the 'speriment. I Vuv at the spot, and up
he jumped, hoisted his tail like a kite, kicked
up his heels in a banterin' manner, fur he'd
outdone me so often he'd got raal sassy. I
lammed away at him, and away he went
round the mounting, and the bullet arter
him — so good a man, and so good a boy. I
stood chock still. Presently round they
come like a streak uv sunshine, both buck
and bullit, bullit singin' out, 'Whar is it?
whar is it T ' Go it, my fellers, ' says I, and
away they went round the Loaf like a Blue
Bidge storm. Afore you could crack yer
finger they was around agin, bucklety-whet.
Jist as they got agin me, bullit throwed him.
68 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
"I throwed down old Bucksmasher, out
with my butcher-knife, jerked off rny shot-bag
and hung it on the horn uv one uv the purtiest
things you uver seen. I thort I'd look at it
better when I stuck my buck. I knifed him
monstrous quick, and turned round to look at
the curious thing I'd hung my shot-bag on,
and it were gone most outn sight. I soon
seen it were the moon passin' along, and I'd
hung my shot-bag on the corner uv it. I
hated mightily to lose it, fur it had all my
ammernition in it, and too 'bout a pound uv
But I shouldered my old buck, moseyed
home, skinned and weighed him, and he
weighed 150 pounds clean weight. I slep'
sound that night, fur I'd gained the victory.
I went next day to look fur the moon, and
to git my shot-bag, pervided it hadn't spilt it
off in moseyin' so fast. Sure 'nuff, it come
mosey in' along next day, jist at the same
time o' day, with my shot-bag on its horn.
I snatched it off, and told it to mosey on
'bout its business.
* A favorite powder with hunters in that S3ction, made by
a man named John Thompson. I have no doubt of its being
the best powder in the world.
UNCLE DAVY LANE. QQ
"Now thar's some things 111 describe the
best I can, and I'm a tolluble hand at it,
though I say it ; but I nuver will tell a hu-
man critter how that moon looked. But
111 say this much : all that talk of 'stroni-
my and lossify 'bout the moon are nonsense ;
that's what I Tcnoiv. They can't fool this old
'coon, fur what I knoAv I know — what I've
seen I've seen."
After a lazy laugh, in which he cared not
whether you engaged or not— at least his
looks would so indicate — Uncle Davy would
straighten himself, fetch a long breath, charge
his mouth with a fresh chew of tobacco, and
would proceed to tell of his
RIDE IN THE PEACH-TREE.
" Now when I got my shot-bag off uv the
moon, I lost no time, which I'd lost a great
deal arter that old buck, as jist riorated. I
moseyed home in a hurry, straightened old
Bucksmasher, and piked off to Skull Camp*
* A spur of the Blue Ridge, at the foot of which one or two
human skeletons were found at the first settling of the country,
where there were signs of an old hunters' camp ; hence the
name of the mountain.
70 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
to smash up a few old bucks on that grit.
Soon as I landed I seen 'bout a dozen old
bucks and one old doe. I planted myself,
fur they was comm' right smack to''ads me,
and I waited tell they got in shootin' range,
as it were. I knowed ef I smashed Mrs.
Doe fust I'd be right apt to smash all the
Mr. Bucks. That's the way with all crea-
tion — the males allers a-traipsin' arter the
" So I lammed away at her, fetched her
to the yeth, and the bucks scampered off.
Agin I got loadened up they come back to
the doe, smellin"' round, and I blazed away
agin, and tripped up the heels uv one uv
'um. They'd run off a little ways uvry time,
but agin I'd load up thar'd allers be one
ready to be smashed, and I jist kep' smashin'
away tell there were but one left, and he
were a whopper.
"I felt in my shot-bag, and, pox take the
luck ! there warn't a bullit in it — nothin'
but a peach-stone. I crammed it down,
thort I'd salute him wdth that, and blazed
away, aimin' to hit him right behind the
wethers, and, by golly ! ef he didn't slap
UNCLE DAVY LANE. 7]^
down his tail and outrun creation, and give
it two in the game. I run up, out with my
butcher-knife, stuck uvry one on 'um afore
you could cry 'cavy. And sich a pile on
'um, all lyin' cross and pile, you nuver seen
in yer horned days.
"I moseyed home in a turkey-trot, got
Jim and Sanders and the little waggin, went
arter 'um, and, I tell you, we had nice livin'
fur a fortnight. Some o' the old bucks
would a cut four inches clare fat on the
rump. Molly didn't hev to use any hog fat
nur fry no bacon with 'um. We sopped
both sides uv ur bread, and greased ur
mouths from ear to ear. It made the chil-
dering as sassy as it does a sea-board feller
when he gits his belly full uv herrin'. Thar
was skins plenty to make me and all the
boys britches, and to buy ammernition to
keep old Bucksmasher a-talkin' fur a long
time, fur he's a mighty gabby old critter to
varmunts uv uvry kind, well as to old bucks,
"Arter makin a desput smash among old
bucks uvry whar else fur three very long
years, I thort I'd try my luck in Skull Camp
72 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
agin. I took plenty uv ammernition with
me this time — didn't care about shootin'
peach-stones any more out'n old Bucksmash-
er — and piked off full tilt.
"Soon as I got on good hunting yeth, I
seen right by the side uv a clift uv rocks (I
were on the upper side uv the clift) a fine
young peach-tree, full uv master plum peach-
es. I were monstrous hongry and dry, and
thanked my stars fur the good luck. I sot
down old Bucksmasher, stepped from the top
uv the clift inter the peach-tree — nuver look-
ed down to see whar it were growin' — jerked
out old Butch, and went to eatin' riproarin'
"I hadn't gulluped down more'n fifty
master peaches afore, by golly! the tree
started off, with me in it, faster nur you
uver seen a scared wolf run. When it had
run a mile ur so, I looked down to see what
it mout mean. And what do you think?
True as preaching the peach-tree was grow-
in' out'n an old buck, right behind his
"I thort my time had come, for on he
jnoseyed over logs, rocks, clifts, and all sorts
UNCLE DAVY LANE. 73
o' things, and me up in the tree. He went
so fast, he did, that he split the wind, and
made it roar in my head like a harricane. I
tried to pray, but soon found I had no breath
to spar in that way, fur he went so orful fast
that my wind was sometimes clean gone.
He run in that fashion fur fifteen mile, gin
out, stopped to rest, when I got out'n my
fast-runnin' stage mighty soon, and glad o'
"I left him pantin' away like he were
mighty short o' wind, returned thanks fur
once, tuck my foot in my hand, and walked
all the way back to old Bucksmasher. I
seen more old bucks on my way than I uver
seen in the same length uv time in all my
borned days. They knowed jist as well as I
did that I had nothin' to smash 'um with.
Thar they was a-kickin' up thar heels and
snortin' at me fur fifteen long miles — ^miles
measured with a 'coon-skin, and the tail
throwed in fur good measure, fur sure. It
were a mighty trial, but I grinned and en-
dured it. I piked on and landed at the
place whar I started in my peach-tree stage,
found old Bucksmasher, shouldered him, and
74 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
moseyed fur home, with my feathers cut, fur
I'd made a water haul that time, fur sure and
"To — be — shore, Mr. Lanef said old Mr.
Wilmoth, a good, credulous old man ; " ef I
didn't know you to be a man of truth, I
couldn't believe you. How do you think
that peach-tree come up in the back of that
"Bless you, man ! it was from the peach-
stone I shot in his back, as jist norated —
Our hero loved to tell of his adventures
with other "villinus varmunts" as well as
with "old bucks." We will now hear him
"let off" with his marvelous adventure with
that ever-dreaded and feared monster,
"Arter this dreadful relarm jist norated,
I thort I'd not go inter the Skull Camp
Mountings agin soon, so I sot my compass fur
Fisher's Peak to try my luck. I crossed it
at the Bald Rock,* and went back uv it a
* Near the top of Fisher's Peak, on the south side, there is a
large rock, about an acre in size, calle 1 the " Bald Rock."
UNCLE DAVY LANE. 75
piece, skinnin' my eyes all the time fur old
bucks, when I come up chug upon one, dead
as a mittin — -jist killed. Thar warn't the
sign uv a bullit on it; it were desputly
scratched up and raked hither and thither,
and the yeth and leaves was tore up all
round. Says I, '111 skin you, any how,
and make suthin out'n your hide.'
"I tuck oiF his jacket quick, hung it up,
piked on furder, and found another jist in
the same fix. Says I, ' This is a cheap way
of gittin' old bucks' skins, fur sure. No
wastin' ammernition here, for Thompson's
powder and Pearce's lead* is mighty pre-
cious.' So I tuck oif his clothin' in three
shakes of a sheep's tail.
"On I moseyed tell I ondressed eight
master bucks in the same way, tell I were in
a lather uv sweat, fur it was tolluble hot.
When I come to the ninth, the sign was
fresher and fresher; it was hardly done
kickin'. I ondressed him too, nuver think-
in' fur a minit what it were a-smashin' up
old bucks in that drefful way.
* Hunters in that section obtained their lead at Pearce's
lead mines, Poplar Camp Mountain, Wythe County, Virginia.
76 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
" Jist as I riz up from skinnin'* him, I
looked up in a post-oak-tree right dab over
me, and there sot the biggest painter that uver
walked the Blue Kidge, fur sure. Thar he
sot on a limb, his eyes shinin' away like new
money, slappin' his tail jist like a cat gwine
to jump on a rat. I like to a sunk in my
tracks. Poor, helpless critter I was. I thort
about prayin', but I seen there were no time
fur that ; so I kep^ my eyes on him, stepped
four ur five steps backwards to'ads where
I'd sot old Bucksmasher, thinkin' thar mout
be more vartue in powder and lead than in
prayers jist then. I cocked him, whipped
him up to the side uv my face, drawed a
bead right between the eyes, let him hev it
jist as he commenced springin' on me. He
fell at my feet, and died monstrous hard,
like he had a thousand lives, slappin' his
tail on the ground ; you mout a hearn him
three hundred and fifty yards.
"Thinkin' there mout be some more uv
the same stock in them thar woods, I nuver
tuck time to ondress him, which his skin
would a bin wuth right smart uv ammerni-
tion. I gathered up my skins, and moseyed
UNCLE DAVY LANE. 77
Uncle Davy must have had the organ of
" destructiveness" pretty fully developed,
for fowls, as well as "animils" and "sar-
punts," were "smashed up" by him, as may
be gathered from
THE TURKEY HUNT.
"Now I got mighty tired livin' on old
buck meat — nairly as sick uv it as the chil-
lun of Israel was in the willerness livin*' on
partridges and manna, which my teeth was
most wore down to the gums eatin' it ; so I
thort I'd sweeten my mouf a little on turkey
meat. So I piked off to Nettle's Knob,*
knowin' as how thar was a slambangin"'
chance uv 'um in that mounting. I seen
hundereds uv old bucks as I moseyed on,
but, pshaAv ! I told uvry rascal on 'um to
git out'n the way, fur when I went a-turkey-
in' I didn't go a-buckin' ; so they didn't
tempt me any more — fur sure they didn't.
"Now soon as I got nairly to the top uv
the knob, on the south side, I seen a master
* A beautiful knob near the foot of the Blue Ridge, not far ^
from the " Flour Gap," now " Pipher's Gap." The line be- /
tween Virginia and North Carolina crossed it. !>
78 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
gang uv turkeys feedin' along on beggar's
lice, etc., mighty busy, comin' right to'ads
me. I hid myself right behind an old chest-
nut log, sly as a wild-cat. Thar was 'bout
sixty on 'um — a right nice gang. I soon
seen which were the grandmamma uv the
whole possercomitattus, and I detarmined to
smash her fust. I lammed away, and down
she fell to flutterin', and her feet clatterin'
away like a pack uv fool boys and gals
a-dancin\ The childering and grandchilder-
ing all run up to see what were the matter,
hollerin' loud as they could, most splittin'
their throats, ' coot ! coot ! coot ! '
"Afore she was done a-flutterin', I lam-
med down another old hen ; the rest run up,
and the same coot ! coot ! tuck place. I kep'
lammin' 'um down fast as I could, which
was mighty fast, till the whole woods was
alive with flutterin' and hollerin' coot ! coot !
Soon as I got about forty on 'um, I quit
burnin' powder ; besides, old Bucksmasher
had got so hot I were afraid to put powder
down him. I went up to whar they was,
and, my stars ! what a pile on 'um ! I could
a killed the last one on 'um, fur I had to
UNCLE DAVY LANE. 79
shoo 'um off. I went home fur the boys
and the little waggin, and for sure we had
good livin' fur a week on baked and hashed
turkey, which isn't bad eatin' any time, it
The transition from one fowl story to an-
other was quite easy and natural to Uncle
Davy. Thus he passed with great facility
from the "turkey smashin' " to
' ' Now, do ye see, a man will git tired out
on one kind o' meat, I don't care a drot what
it is ('ceptin' Johnson Snow, who nuver gits
tired o' hog's guliicks and turnup greens).
So I got tireder of them thar turkeys, which
thar was so many, than I uver did uv old
buck meat. I hearn uv a mighty pigeon-
roost down in the Little Mountings,* so I
'tarmined to make a smash uv some uv 'um,
to hev a variety uv all sorts o' meat. I had
got to turnin' up my nose whenuver Molly
sot turkey on the table, which I hated to do,
fur she's a mighty kind critter.
* A range of mountains by that name, an offshoot from the
Blue Ridge, in the " Hollows of the Yadkin."
80 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
" So I jist fixed up old Tower,* and filled
my sliot-bag chug full uv drap-sliot, mounted
old Nip,f and moseyed off fur the pigeon-
roost. I 'ruv thar 'bout two hours by the
sun, and frum that blessed hour till chock
dark the heavens was dark with 'um comin'
inter the roost. It is unconceivable to tell
the number on ""um, which it were so great.
Bein' a man that has a character fur truth, I
won't say how many there was. Thar was
a mighty heap uv saplins fur 'um to roost
in, which they would allers light on the big-
gest trees fust, then pitch down on the little
uns ter roost.
"Now jist at dark I thort I'd commence
smashin' 'um ; so I hitched old Nip to the
limb uv a tree with a monstrous strong bri-
dle — a good hitchin' j)lace, I thort. I com-
menced blazin' away at the pigeons like thun-
der and lightnin' ; which they'd light on big
trees thick as bees, bend the trees to the yeth
like they'd been lead. Uvry pop I'd spill
about a pint uv drap-shot at 'um, throwed
at 'um by Thompson's powder, which made
* The name of his musket.
t The name of his horse.
UNCLE DAVY LANE. §3
a drefful smash among 'um. By hokey ! I
shot so fast, and so long, and so often, I het
old Tower so hot that I shot six inches off
uv the muzzle uv the old slut. I seen it
were no use to shoot the old critter clean
away, which I mout have some use fur agin ;
so I jist quit burnin' powder and flingin"'
shot arter I'd killed 'bout a thousand on
'um, fur sure.
"Arter I'd picked up as many on 'um
as my wallets would hold, I looked fur old
Nip right smack whar I'd hitched him, but
he were, like King Saul's asses, nowhar to
be found. I looked a consid'able spell next
to the yeth, but, bless you, honey ! I mout
as well a sarched fur a needle in a haystack.
At last I looked up inter a tree 'bout forty
foot high, and thar he were swingin' to a
limb, danglin' 'bout 'tween the heavens and
the yeth like a rabbit on a snare-pole. I
could hardly keep from burstin' open laugh-
in' at the odd fix the old critter were in.
The way he whickered were a fact, when I
spoke to him — wusser nur ef I'd a had a
stack uv fodder fur him ur a corn-crib to put
84 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
"How come him up thar, Uncle Davy?''
said Bill Holder, a great quiz.
"Why, I hitched him to the limb uv a big
tree bent to the yeth with pigeons, you num-
skull, and when they riz the tree went up,
and old Nip with it, fur sure."
"But how did you get him down?'' said
"That's nuther here nor thar; I got him
down, and that's 'nuff fur sich pukes as you
ter know. Soon as I got him down I piked
fur home with my pigeons, and we made
uvry pan and pot stink with 'um fur one
whet, and they made us all as sassy as a Tar
River feller when he gits his belly full uv
"These is the oncommonest biggest plum
peaches I uver seen sense my peepers looked
on daylight, " said Uncle Frost Snow, in the
presence of Uncle Davy Lane, while a party
were making a desperate havoc of some very
fine peaches. "They is 'most as good as I
use' to eat in ole Albermarle, Fudginny.
While I lived thar I eat a bushel on jist sich
UNCLE DAVY LANE. 85
peaches at one "eatin'." This was said to
draw out a story from our hero. Uncle
Frost was good at that.
"Pshaw! fidgittyfudge ! " said Uncle
Davy ; "that's nothin' to a bait I once tuck
in ole Pitsulvany, Virginny. I and Uncle
John Lane went into his orchard one day,
and thar was tAvo grate big plum peach-trees
so full that the limbs lay on the ground all
"'Dave,' said Uncle John, 'do ye see
them big peaches thar? I can beat you
eatin' 'um so fur that you won't know yer-
•' 'Not so fast. Uncle John,' says I.
' I'll bet you ten buckskins, ' says he.
•' 'Done, by Jeeminny!' says I.
•' 'Take yer choice uv the trees,' says he.
Here's at you ! this one, ' says I.
"And at it we went, like Sampson killin'
the Philistines, with our butcher-knives,
commencin' at 'bout twelve ur clock, and
moseyed into 'um till 'most night.
" 'How do ye come on, Dave?' said Un-
"'Fust-rate,' says I — 'jist gittin' my
36 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
hand in. How do you navigate, Uncle
Jolin?' says I.
" 'I gin up,' says he. 'My craw's full,'
"I looked, and, Jehu Nimshi! ef we
hadn't eat till all the limbs on his tree had
riz from the yeth two foot, and mine had riz
three foot. The peach-stones lay in two
piles, and they looked fur all the world like
two Injun mounds — mine a nation sight the
"Haw! haw! haw!" laughed Uncle
Frost ; " that takes the rag off uv the bush. "
"I'm danged," said Dick Snow, "ef I
can't beat any man in this crowd eatin' ap-
"How many can you eat, yearlin'?" said
Uncle Davy. "I'm a snorter in that line,
"Don't know adzackly; a half a bushel,
I s'pose, " said Dick.
"Bah! that's nothin'. No more'n a bar
to an elephant. That same Uncle John
Lane which I won the buckskins from, eat-
UNCLE DAVY LANE. 87
in' peaches, not satisfied with one lickin\ tuck
me into his apple orchard, and, ' Dave, ' says
he, ' do you see yon two big leathercoat ap-
" ' Yes, ' says I ; ' and what uv that T
" 'You see,' says he, 'they're mighty full,
with thar limbs lyin' on the yeth T says he.
" 'Yes,' says I; 'and what does all that
signify ? Don't be beatin' the bush so long.
Come out! Be a man, and tell me what
you're arter,' says I.
'"I want to win them thar buckskins back
agin,' says Uncle John.
" ' Can't do it,' says I.
" 'Which tree will you take?' says he.
" 'This bully un,' says I.
" ' Bad choice, ' says he ; ' but I'll beat you
the easier,' says he.
"So we moseyed into 'um yearly in the
mornin', and 'bout twelve o'clock he called
fur the calf-rope. I'd beat^him all holler.
Uncle John were swelled out like a hoss
with the colic, while I looked as trim as a
grayhound. We looked, and the limbs uv
my tree had riz from the yeth full four foot,
and his'n three foot. Thar was apple-peel-
33 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
in's and cores enough under them thar trees
to a fed five dozen hogs, sartin."
"I'm danged," said Dick Snow, "ef that
don't take the huckleberry off of my 'sim-
( Patent medicines go every where ; so do
; the almanacs of the inventors of such medi-
cines. Soon after Dr. Jayne commenced
publishing his almanacs, one of them got
into the Fisher's Kiver region. It was quite
a wonder. It was as great a show as the
elephant. Some one showed Uncle Davy
the picture of the tape-worm, and read the
account of it. He was determined not to be
outdone, and held forth as follows :
"Fiddlesticks and Irish 'taters ! For to
think that a man of larnin', like Dr. Jaynes,
should prent sich a little flea-bitten story as
that! He sartinly nuver seen any crape-
" Tcq^e-tvorms, Uncle Davy," said one.
"Nuver mind, and save your breath,"
said he, very emphatically ; "I know what
I'm explanigatin' about. I say Dr. Jaynes
UNCLE DAVY LANE. 89
were mighty pushed fur a wurrum story to
prent sich a little baby story as that you
have jist norated frum his book. If he'd a
called on me, I'd a gi'n him one vv^hat was
"Let's have it, Uncle Davy," said several
"I'm a great mind not to tell it here by
the side uv this poor little thing uv Dr.
Jayneses. It makes me rantankerous mad
to hear sich little stuff, it does. But here's
at you, as you look like you'd die ef yoq
don't hear it.
"Where I cum from, in ole Pitsulvany,
Virginny, thar lived a strange-lookin' critter
by the name uv Sallie Pettigrew. I sha'n't
try to describe her, for it is onpossible. She
were a sight, sure. She looked more like a (
bar'l on stilts than any thing I can think on. /
She could eat as much meat sometimes as ^
five dogs, and soon arter eatin' it could drink S
as much water as a thirsty yoke uv oxen,
sartin'. You needn't be winkin' and blink-
in' thar ; truth, uvry word uv it. She was
monstrous fond uv fish, which it was on-
possible almost to git anuff fur her to make
90 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
a meal on. And then, arter eatin' the fish,
she would drink galluns upon galluns uv
water. The people got mighty tired uv her
eatin' and drinkin' so much, and thort suthin
must be the matter. They bought a whole
barl uv salt herrin's ; they cooked 'um, and
she gulluped down the last one uv 'um.
They tied her fast, so that she couldn't git
to water. She hollered and bawled fur wa-
ter, and seemed like gwine inter fits. They
brought a bowl uv water, and placed it close
to her mouth, not close enough fur her to
drink, though. They belt it thar fur some
time ; at last they seed suthin poke its head
out'n her mouth, tryin' to drink. One uv
'um run and got the shoe-pinchers and nab-
bed it by the head, and commenced drawin'
it out. He drawed and drawed, wusser nur
a man drawin' jaw teeth, till it looked like
he would nuver git done drawing the critter
out. At last he got done ; and sich a pile !
and sich a tape-wurrum! The poor 'oman
fainted away, and we like to a nuver a fotch-
ed her to. But when she did cum to, Jehu
Nimshi! you mout a hearn her a shoutin'
two miles and a half We detarmined to
UNCLE DAVY LANE. 91
measure tlie critter. We tuck it up, and tuck
it out n doors, druv a nail through its head
at the corner uv the house, then stretched it
clean round the house where we started from,
which the house was thirty foot long and
eighteen foot wide, makin' the wurrum nine-
ty foot long. I tell you, boys. Dr. Jayneses
tape-wurrum were nothin' to it."
"Deng it! we'll gin it up," said Dick
"You mout as well," said Uncle Davy,
"fur it were a whaler."
I promised the reader one more hunting
story from Uncle Davy. I will now give
it, as it seems to have been the cause of his
reformation, and with it I close the sketches
of our hunting hero. Here it is :
THE BUCK-HOENED SNAKE.
" I piked out one day," said Uncle Davy,
"in sarch uv old bucks, but they was mon-
strous scace, and I couldn't find none. I
got 'most home, and thort I hated to return
havin' smashed nothin' — didn't like to be
laughed at. Jist then an old sucklin' doe
92 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
got right smack in my way. I leveled old
Bucksmaslier, and down she fell. I tuck
her home, and, meat being ruther scace, Ave
eat her up monstrous quick.
" I furgut to mention that it was on Sun-
day I smashed that old doe. My feelings
sorter hurt me fur killin' her on Sunday,
and frum her young fawn too, poor critter !
So in two ur three days arter, I thort I'd go
out and git the fawn. I made me a blate,*
went out to the laurel and ivy thicket whar
I'd killed the doe, blated, and the fawn an-
swered me, fur it thought it was its mam-
my, poor thing! I kep' blatin' away, and
uvry time I'd blate it would answer me, but
it cum to me mighty slow, sartin. I got
onpatient, and moseyed a little to'ads it, and
got on a log where I could see a leetle, which
the laurel and ivy was monstrous thick. I
blated agin, which it answered close by. I
then streeched up my neck liken a scared
turkey, lookin' 'mong the laurel and ivy, and
what do you think I seen V
* Hunters split a stick, put a leaf into it, and by blowing it
can imitate the bleating of deer so as to deceive them. They
call it a "blate."
UNCLE DAVY LANE. 93
"I can not imagine," said Taliaferro, to
whom lie was relating this adventure.
"Well, I'll tell you. Thar lay the big-
gest, oncommonest black snake the Lord
uver made, sartin — which he has made a
many a one — full fifteen foot long, with a
pair of rantankerous big buck's horns, big as
antelope's horns. It fixed its tarnacious
eyes on me, but afore it could get its spell
on me I jumped off uv that log, and run so
fast that I nuver hev nur nuver will tell any
man — ^which it is onpossible to tell any man
— ^how fast I did pike fur home. But sartin
it is that the runnin' fi^om the coachwhip
on Hound Hill were no more to it than the
runnin' uv a snail to a streak uv li'ghtnin'."
"What do you think it was?" inquired
"I jist think it were suthin' sent thar to
warn me 'bout huntin' on Sundays. It
Mated jist like a fawn, and I thort it were
the fawn I were arter ; but, Jehu Nimshi !
it were no more a fawn than I am a fawn,
sartin. But as sure as old Bucksmasher is
made uv iron, and is the best gun in the
world, I've nuver hunted on Sunday sense."
94 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
v.— UNCLE FROST SNOW.
The man who once saw "Uncle Frost
Snow" would never forget him; and, of
course, being raised under his eye, I can not
forget his peculiar features and eccentric ac-
tions. He was of small stature, with a tri-
une countenance — the sad, the quizzical, and
the cheerful, the cheerful preponderating —
ever ready for a loud, hearty laugh. He
would laugh all over — ^his countenance, eyes,
mouth, and body. He was energetic and
eccentric in all his movements. He was
fond of the "tickler," but not to excess;
hated a "feller what would git down dog
drunk under yer foot on the yeth."
He was raised in " Albermarle, Fudgin-
ny," and didn't care "a durn whether he
blonged to one on the fust famblys uv Fud-
ginny ur not." He certainly came from a
section where rustic literature had attained
to perfection ; and he clung to the language
UNCLE FROST SNOW. 95
of his section and of his youth with great
tenacity, as the following incident will show,
which I record as a memento of my regard
for his memory.
Uncle Frost lived on a poor, broken piece
of land, on which most men Avould have
starved, but by uncommon energy and good
farming he managed to live well. He rose
early and worked late, obliged to do so or
He had a favorite negro boy named An-
derson, who went to a neighbor's house one
night, and did not get home next morning till
a late hour. Uncle Frost was up early, and
went out, nervously awaiting Anderson's ar-
rival, jumping about like a mountain snow-
bird, hitching up his "hipped britches" —
being an old-fashioned man, he wouldn't
wear "gallusses, " not he. ' ' Durned ef they'd
strap thar backs in old Fudginny, nur I
ain't a-gwine to do it nuther." Presently
Anderson came, and what took place he re-
ported to his neighbor and particular friend,
Mrs. Easley, thus :
"You see. Miss Yeasley, folks is gittin'
too smart — too big fur thar britches. Larn-
96 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
in' and big quality words is ruinin' on us
fast. Even the niggers is a-ketchin' big
quality words. My Anderson went down
t'other night ter 'Squire Whitlock's to git a
par o' britches cut out, and got home late,
he did. Anderson's a good nigger, and I
jest Avanted to skeer him. I runs up ter
him with a bully hickory, lookin' bagonits
at him, and, says I, ' Anderson ! whar you
bin T says I. His eyes looked like a skeered
'"To Mr. Whitlock's,' says he.
'"To Mr. Whitlock's!' says I; 'and
what fur T says I.
" 'To get a pair of pantaloons cut out,'
says he, mighty qualityfied.
" ' Pantaloons ! pantaloons ! ! ' says I ;
'who larnt you to call 'um pantaloons?'
says I. ' Gittin' above yer master ? Talk-
in' like the Franklins and all the big quality
folks, you lamper-jawed, cat-hamed puke,'
says I. 'You nuver hearn yer master call
'um any thing but britches, nur you sha'n't, '
says I. ' I'll larn you to puke up big qual-
ity words, you varmunt, ' says I ; and I lar-
ruped him well, I tell you. I 'clare. Miss
UNCLE FROST SNOW. 97
Yeasley, I wouldn't a tetched him ef he'd a
said britches ; fur I'm 'tarmined my niggers
sha'n't talk this big quality talk, nur shall
my chillun talk it, ef I can help it ; but my
son John, sense he married inter yer fambly,
he's quit talkin' like his daddy — got to qual-
ity in' uv it. I'll let that go, but my niggers
sha'n't do it, Miss Yeasley. "
98 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
VI.— DICK SNOW.
Speaking of Uncle Frost Snow, the asso-
ciation of ideas will naturally carry the mind
to his family ; and of all the members of his
family, which was quite numerous, I have
the most vivid and distinct recollection of
his son Dick. No wonder, when we were
raised together, he being a few years my sen-
ior. I shall not have occasion to ask the
reader's pardon for giving my friend Dick
Snow so much space in this work, for he
will find him, upon farther acquaintance, an
"original document" — will be pleased with
him every way. I shall first give some orig-
inal anecdotes illustrative of the animus of
the man, and, secondly, relate his thrilling
I have just stated that Dick Snow was a
son of Uncle Frost Snow, and a favorite one
too, for he inherited most -of the looks and
eccentricities of his father ; and as to the
DICK SNOW. 99
vernacular of his father, no Roman Catholic
ever stuck closer to his creed than Dick, be-
sides a considerable addition from other
sources. The fact is, Dick had a smattering
of all the rustic literature of the land — a fair
representative of Fisher's River literature,
overdoing the thing a little, however. Un-
cle Frost loved Dick much, "because he
won't git above his daddy, and talks like
they did in old Albermarle, Fudginny."
As to size, Dick was a little above ordi-
nary, but well made and finely proportioned,
with muscles clearly and fully developed.
He was a little stoop-shouldered, and moved
quickly and with great ease. His face was
quite paradoxical, wearing both a vinegar
and pleasant appearance. His eyes were
black, small, and restless, indicating quick
perception, particularly of the ridiculous.
His nose was well set, indicative of decision
of character, of which he evidently had much.
His chin testified to the same, and so did his
lips. His person and countenance combined
bespoke his honesty, frankness, bravery, de-
cision, and mischievousness.
But this must suffice for description — a
IQO FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
poor one too. If the reader could see the
man, he Avould agree with me. I will now
When Dick was married, he settled on a
very poor farm, on which no other man
could have lived. His wife Sallie in due
time gave him a son, and as soon thereafter
as things of the kind are ever done, she pre-
sented him one night with two beautiful
twin sons. In the morning, some time be-
fore daylight, Dick was heard rattling his
chains and gearing his horse. His attend-
ant friends were surprised, and remon-
"Dick, where on earth are you going?
What are you going to do V
' ' I m g^vine to wurk — that's what. When
the fambly is 'creasin' so fast, I must 'crease
my wurk, by jingo ! "
This was said, not by way of complaint,
but from the promptings of his indomitable
People in that country, at the time of
DICK SNOW. IQl
which I speak, got nearly all their informa-
tion by inquiry. They did not take the pa-
pers ; the sound of the stage bugle never
echoed through their hills and mountains.
If a man went twenty miles from home, he
might expect on his return to be quizzed not
a little. Dick once went to Rockford, the
seat of justice for Surry County, to court,
when a certain "'Squire Byrd" was to be
tried for murder. Expectation was on tip-
toe. Dick returned, and was asked the news.
"Thar warn't no trial; 'twas put off, an'
'Squire :Byrd has gi'n siscurity for his ex-
> spearunce at the next court, so they 'least
Dick had a pertinacious way of abbrevi-
ating nearly all his words, even when he
knew better. He was a man of fine sense
and good judgment, but he wished to take
"short cuts," and "talk jest like he'd bin
larnt," and was too energetic to take time to
pronounce whole words. Once he returned
from court, and was giving his neighbors the
news in the presence of his wife, who was a
102 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES
woman of good learning for that section, and
said "sich an' sich" men were '•'■'turned to
His wife was amused at him, and said,
" Dick, why don't you call that word right?"
' ' Well, ree-turned, then, ef you will have
it the long way," replied Dick. "Some
folks are allers gwine the long way, but that
ain't me. I gits right inter it, like a hom-
minny-bird (humming-bird) inter a tech-me-
not flower. "
I remember well the first time I ever
heard of domestic cotton cloth. It was from
my friend Dick Snow that I learned that
there was such a thing. Dick had been to
Wauo-h's store, in the "Hollows" of the
Yadkin, and upon his return I inquired the
"I'm danged ef thar ain't some uv the
cheapestest mastiss cloth at Waugh's store
on top of the yeth, by jingo ! "
"What?" said I.
"Mastiss cloth, dang it! on'y twenty-five
cents a yard."
I saw it was useless to press the question,
DICK SNOW. 103
as far as Dick was concerned, but I inquired
of my father, and found it to be domestic
Not long after this, Dick came where I
was at work. "Dick," said I, "how is
your health V
"Laus-a-day, I'm 'most dade."
"Truly," said I, "your face is quite long.
What is the matter V
"I've got the wust discontary that uver a
poor reflicted critter had. It's wearin' me
out fast. I'm empty as a barl."
' ' What is it ?" I inquired.
"Discontary ! Dang it ! can't you hear ?
I'll pick yer ears with a handspike d'rect-
Dick was a good farmer, and was among
the first to get any new plow that came
along and promised to be useful. There
came into the neighborhood a valuable plow
called the Dagon Cooter. Dick, determined
to have one, went to the blacksmith, Meredy
Edmonds, and said,
"Meredy, I'm come to git you to make
me a bully plow."
lOJ: FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
"What sort of a plowf asked the black-
"Dang it! I furgit the name, but I
b'leeve it's Caten Dooden or Doodly Dagon.
It makes no odds ; you know what's what —
what I wants jest as well as I does."
Dragoon bridle-bits used to be in fashion.
Dick had never used a pair, but, having an
unruly horse, he concluded he'd try him with
a pair of dragoon bits ; but, not having a pair
of his own, he went to a neighbor and in-
"I'm come to borryyer dagon bits."
"What is it?" asked the neighbor.
"Dagon bits! Cuss these hard names!
My mouf was nuver made to 'nounce 'um.
Ding such big quality words."
Game of every kind was plentiful in that
mountainous country, and sometimes hunters
would descend from big game down to rab-
bit hunting. Dr. K. Thompson and Dick
took a rabbit hunt one day, and when the
hunt was over the doctor proposed to divide
the game with Dick, to which he responded
DICK SNOW. |^Q5
"Don't want 'um. I doesn't like rabbit
meat ; it tastes too clanged rabbity. "
Dick was a man of respectability, and had
a wife whom he and every body else consid-
ered number one. The best of company,
even the "quality," visited his house. The
Misses Franklin, daughters of Meshech
Franklin, "the Congressman," went to a
Methodist quarterly meeting near Dick's
residence, called on, and staid all night with
him. Dick was unacquainted with "quality
ways," and w^hen the ladies retired to bed
up stairs, they bade the family "good-night."
He didn't know what it meant, and it wor-
ried him worse than the nightmare. At last
he concluded it was some "rig" the young
ladies were running on him, and he resolved
to retrieve what he had lost, for he was a
man who did not like to be outdone. So,
early next morning, he rose, built his fire,
and watched the stair-steps until he heard
the ladies coming down. He then ran and
hid himself near the foot of the stairway.
As soon as they landed on the lower floor,
Dick rushed out of his hiding-place, scaring
106 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
the misses not a little, and bawled out
" Good-mornin"' at ye, ladies! I's fast
anuff fur you this time. Now I'll quit ye,
as we's even. You got me last night ; Ts
got ye this mornin\''''
I have never seen a place yet where poli-
tics had not reached. In that secluded spot
where Dame Fashion has seldom found her
way, or has -met with such a cold reception
that she does not care to visit it, even there
the demon Politics is open-mouthed. Dick
was therefore compelled to take sides. He
became a warm "Dimicrat- — a mortaUack-
During the Revolution there were many
Tories in that region, and their descendants
were derided and despised by the descend-
ants of the Whigs. Dick entered the list in
controversy with the grandson of a Tory,
who was a Whig in politics. Sam J was
a little too hard for Dick in discussion, and
Dick turned upon him with a "jodarter,"
and smote him thus :
" Sam, you's chock full uv yer grandaddyls
• GOOT)-MORNIN', LABIES.'
DICK SNOW. log
blood. You's got his old rade coat he wore
in the Revolution now put away in yer chist.
Next thing youll be wearin' on it ; the first
good chance you git, youll be rippin', an'
shinin', an' sailin' about in it. I m danged
ef I don't gin you a dollar to see it any day."
Speaking of politics reminds me of one
more anecdote connected therewith. It was
customary for "candidites" in olden times
to treat with liquor ; but after a while the
temperance* reformation reached Fisher's
River, mainly through the instrumentality
of Solomon Graves, Esq., of Mount Airy,
and " polititioners" in treating had to
change their "tacktucks" a little. Mack-
erel were used by some candidates instead of
Johnson Snow's " knock-'em-stifi*. "
"Mackerel! why, didn't every body have
Not so fast, captious reader. Close un-
der the Blue Ridge w^e had nothing but
chubs, hornyheads, pikes, white suckers, sun-
perch, eels, speckled trout, and a few other
* The first time I ever heard of temperance societies in that
section, the people called them " temple societies."
110 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES
small varieties of the finny tribes. Mack-
erel was unknown when I left in 1829.
Now it came to pass that a candidate for
the suffrages of the sovereigns of Fisher's
Kiver, by the name of Reeves, procured a
barrel of mackerel from Fayetteville, Wil-
mington, or somewhere else, at a great deal
of expense, brought them into Surry, and a
few of them into Dick's neighborhood, and
resolved to have a mackerel supper at Wylie
Franklin's. Dick was invited. Said the
person inviting him, "Mr. Reeves sends his
compliments, and wishes you to come over
this evening to Mr. Franklin's, and take
some mackerel with him."
" Ah ! dang Reeves, " said Dick. ' ' That's
jest like him. I knows him jest as well as
the man that made him. He knowed I
couldn't read his dinged newspapers and
pamphlets" (Dick couldn't read); "but I'll
go and hear him read 'um ; I loves to hear
'um read ; I loves good readin'."
Imagine Dick's surprise when he went
and found his newsj^apers and pamphlets
were converted into fish.
DICK SNOW. 1]^!^
Dick was a rough hand to joke people.
It w^as a law in that region, enacted by com-
mon consent, that no one was to get angry
at a joke, however rough it might be. Dick
observed M. H., a married man, walking
with a young lady, and conversing pretty
fluently, and, as he thought, a little too
amorously, in a crowd. He thought it a
good chance, and blurted out loudly,
" Hello w, M ! Ill tell your wife, sir.
I'm danged ef you hain't sot your coulter
too deep to make a good craj). You can't
fool this chile. I'se cut my eye teeth long
Dick had lost none of his joking propen-
sities when I visited that section in 1857.
I wore a long beard — the whole beard — and
was a perfect wonder to the people. For,
as stated. Fashion either neglects that place
wholly, or makes it the last place she visits.
Upon my arrival, I found that Dame Fash-
ion had just introduced in full vogue sacks
and joseys among the young ladies ; and as
to a full-grown beard, except among the
" Dunkards," it was " onhearn on." I made
112 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
my defense one day in a large crowd, and
when I was through Dick came to my relief
as follows :
"Gintlemen, I knows what Hardy wears
his beard for. You doesn't know him well
as I does. I was raised wiz him ; I knows
him adzackly. You see, gintlemen, wimin's
mighty 'ticin'' things to men, and men''s
mighty 'ticin' things to wimin. Hardy is
out a grate deal from home, and he doesn't
want to 'tice the wimin, nur he don't want
the wimin to 'tice him ; so he's put on that
great big, ugly beard, that there mayn't be
any 'ticement neither way."
The foregoing anecdotes of Dick Snow are
a few only of the many now in my memory.
They have been selected at random, or near-
ly so. If all that are remembered were
written, they would fill a large volume ; but
space allows no more, and I will now give
the reader his
The word "courtship" reminds one of
courting and of courting days, probably long
DICK SNOW. 113
past. So back I go to old Surry, to the
days of my boyhood. Where is the boy
who has entered his teens who has not "tried
his hand'' at courting? His first essays in
the business are quite laughable. The first
time I ever attempted to court a girl, being
quite bashfiil, we went into the cook-house,
and while I was very awkwardly prefacing
matters, a shrill tenor voice was heard from
the "big house," which, set to music, runs
"Oh, Poll, mammy says you must git
dinner ; and she says you must fry a piece
o' meat apiece, and two for daddy."
Thinking meat was a little scarce, and be-
ing very bashful too, I unceremoniously left.
Courting was done then and there on an
original scale, differing from that adopted
in most other places on this green earth —
very different from nowadays courting ev-
ery where. Being a peculiar place, it had
its own etiquette.
Most of the people walked to "meetin'."
Boys and "gals," the boys mostly bare-
footed, would get together as by magic, and
walk " side-and-side, " the "gals" with their
1X4 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
beautiful striped cotton home-made dresses
on, with their shoes in their "redicules" till
they got in sight of the "meetin'-house."
They would then halt, go aside and put on
their shoes, while their barefooted gallants,
with tow and cotton shirts and "britches,"
stood in the road till their return. Reader,
don't be incredulous ; every word of it true.
And those were happy, happy days. I love
them because I was an actor in such primi-
tive scenes of life.
There were endless ways of getting the
' ' young folks" together. In the spring there
would be "grubbings" and "log-rollings;"
in summer, "reapings ;" and in the fall,
" corn-shuckings. " On all such occasions
the girls would always manage to have "quilt-
ings" and "sewings." As soon as night
came, or the work was done, the fiddle sound-
ed, and they danced and courted all night.
Christmas was a great festival. They felt
grateful to and blessed the man that invent-
ed it. With the "young uns" it was a gen-
eration from one Christmas to another. For
a whole week they would dance from house
to house day and night, "sparkin'" going
DICK SNOW. 11^
on at a "big lick" all the time. The old-
fashioned "seven-handed reel" was the only
go. A brainless, barrel-headed dancing-mas-
ter (for all are such) was a perfect lion ; a
fiddler was next in repute ; and the parson
For one young man to get the advantage
of another in "sparkin'" was considered
quite lawful and shrewd, and it was called
" cuttin' out." No duels were fought on ac-
count of it. It was a law in their court-
ships. The young ladies admired it ; hence
they would make no engagements with young
men to be partners with them for a time —
not even to accompany them to "meetin''"
and back to their homes. No ; the young
misses loved to see the young "sparkers"
exercise their ingenuity in the game of
"catch and keep." They might start coup-
led, but before they arrived at their destina-
tion they would probably "change pardners"
often. All right, for it has been shrewdly
done, and has afforded merriment for the
crowd and matter for conversation. The
same was true of thefeiv who rode on horse-
back ; for I have been speaking of the foot
116 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
crowd. Some fine feats of horsemanship,
worthy of a Murat or a Cossack, have been
performed in that region by way of " cuttin'
But I have wandered, yet not uninten-
tionally, for it is necessary and prefatory to
Dick Snow's courtship.
Now it came to pass, in the course of hu-
man events, that Dick fell in love Avith Sally
Tucker, youngest daughter of William and
Molly Tucker, a very respectable family.
"Uncle Billy Tucker" being "well off" for
that country, and Sally being an admirable
girl, Dick had quite a time of it, owing to
her many suitors. Algias Cave was Dick's
principal opponent, and the struggle was
long, hard, and doubtful. Nothing but
Dick's energy and perseverance, and "git-
tin' on the blind side o' the old folks, " caused
him to succeed. Many a man would have
"gi'n it up as a lost ball;" but not so with
Dick ; ' ' fur, " said he, "I nuver gins a thing
up as long as there's a pea in the gourd."
But I must let Dick tell his own court-
"The fust time 1 uver seen Sally," said
DICK SNOW." 117
Dick, " I sot my Sections on her right smack
like a leech on to a fish, so that I'd a gi n
my life fur her. But I was mighty dry a
lettin' her know how I was a-takin' on. I
knowed the boys was a-takin' on and shinin'
around her, 'tickeler Caldwell Shipp and
'Gius Cave — 'Gius the wust. I knowed ef
I didn't spark her soon my cake was dough.
I made a 'skuse to Sally to go wim me inter
the garden to show me the hollyhawks and
all the purty flowers. She went wim me,
and kept showin' me this, that, and t'other
cussed thing, which I keered no more for 'um
than a hog does fur holiday. My heart
was a-spinnin' round like a top, and my
breath short as pie-crust, and my body shak-
in' like a dog with the ager. Last I made
out to ax Sally ef she'd have me. She said
she'd 'sider on it a while. Now I'd ruther
hearn any thing else. I didn't like that 'sid-
erin' a bit, fur I knowed 'Gius had his eye
on her like a blue-tailed hawk watchin' a
chicken ; but I helt a stiiF upper lip ; let on
like I didn't care a dried-apple durn, and
"I staid away fur some time, and 'Gius
118 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
was all the time knittin' away. I bleeved
I could onravel all his knittin' when I got
my pegs sot ; yet I was a good deal con-
sarned about it, I must 'fess. Last I got a
hint from Sally, as I tuck it. I went over
and onraveled all 'Gius's knitting and showed
him whar Tony hid the wadge. Still I was
sorter 'served, all to make Sally bleeve I
wasn't sich anxious arter all. Last I made
a 'skuse to wuck some fur the old man, Sal-
ly's daddy. It was corn-gathering time, and,
I tell you, I made things wake — wucked all
day, wouldn't stop fur dinner — to show my
" Sally waited on me at supper, and I 'tar-
mined to wuck a new plan, and feel uv Sal-
ly's pulse in a new way. I told her I was
a-gwine to court a sartin gal, widout namin'
her. I seen it wucked well, fur she didn't
like it. I sparked her a little that night,
and told her I was a-gwine wiz her to meet-
in' next Sunday.
"We went, and 'bout the fust man I seen
was 'Gius. I seen him cuttin' his fox eyes
'bout as I and Sally walked up to the meet-
in'-house door. The preachin' didn't do me
DICK SNOW. IIQ
much good that day, sartin as a turkle fall-
in' off "uv a log into a mill-pond. They
mout a shouted the top of the meetin'-house
off, and I wouldn't a hearn a word on it. I
was all the time doin' my own knittin"', and
'siderin' how to head 'Gius gwine home, as I
seen it in his foxy looks that he 'tended to
gin me a clatter.
"So no sooner had they 'nounced the
word 'amen' than I got Sally's eye, gin her
the wink, and started wiz her. I cotch our
horses, and helped Sally on, and afore I could
git on my animil, 'Gius — pox take him! —
like to a got in atween us. But he didn't
cut me out that bout, and off we put, 'Gius
close arter us. At last we cum chug up to a
fence that had no draw-bars nur gate. Thar
was 'Gius slinkin' along clost behind us. I
thought I'd be fast anuff fur him, so I jumped
down, jerked down the fence, 'tendin' to git
mine and Sally's bosses over, put it up, and
leave 'Gius on t'other side. But no sooner
had Sally's boss jumped over and clared the
fence, than 'Gius — confound him! — jumped
his over too, afore I could git up a single
rail. I put up the fence in a mighty great
120 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
hurry, and was sicli anxious that I put it up
and left my hoss on t'other side. The fat
was all in the fire, and I caved in. Aginst
I pulled down the fence and got my hoss
over, Sally and 'Gius was away yender.
'T wasn't long afore we cum to another fence,
and thar I slayed 'Gius, and I rode home
wiz Sally arter all 'Gius's knittin'.
"This scrape made me mighty oneasy,
and I 'eluded that night to make the big
war-talk to Sally, hit ur miss. So I yoked
her, and 'swaded and 'swaded her all night,
till- jest before day I got her 'sent to marry
me. When I got her 'sent, I felt like I could
a shouted 'most as loud as Passon Beller at
a Mathodiss meetin' ; but I belt my tongue.
' ' Next time I went over I axed fur Sally.
I went over on Saturday night, but kep' put-
tin' it off till Sunday night, and then didn't
ax fur her. I didn't sleep much Sunday
night, for sartin. I fixed my plan : I'd git
up afore Tommy, Sally's brother, soon in
the mornin' (Tommy slep' v\dz me), knowin'
the old folks was yearly risers, and ax 'um
fur her as soon as I got down stairs. But,
bless you, mate ! I wasn't more'n out'n my
DICK SNOW. 121
bade afore Tommy was up too, peart as a
cricket. I went down stairs, Tommy a-fol-
lerin' along arter me. Dang him ! he nuver
got up so soon afore in all his life. I waited
till the old man went out to feed his hogs,
and I axed him. Said he, ' Go and ax the
old 'omun.' I went, which I was in sich a
sweat to git home to work that I couldn't
wait till she got out'n the smoke-house.
While she was in thar cuttin' meat, I axed
her, and she gin her 'sent. I went home
tickled to death, nearly, to see how I'd slayed
'Gius, and had onraveled all his knittin'.
" We didn't have much of a weddin', 'case
as how the old man, old 'omun, and all the gals,
Sally too, was sich Mathodises they wouldn't '
'low dancin', and uvry thing was serious as
a love-feast, 'most, only we didn't tell our
'spearances, as they does on sich 'casions.
The fact is, I'd been whizzin' round all my
life, and had no 'spearance uv 'ligion to tell
ef I'd been axed. "
The foregoing are a few only of the many
interesting incidents in Dick's courtship,
122 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
which he always told with great gusto. But
before I dismiss him he must tell the story
of his attempt to "git ligion."
' ' Not long arter I was married, old Mis-
ter and old Miss Tucker 'menced 'swadin me
to git ligion ; as I had a fambly, I ought to
set a good 'zample afore 'um, and hold fam-
bly prayer, and all sich good Vice. I knowed
it would please them and Sally too ; and,
knowin' I was a poor, sinful creetur, I 'eluded
I'd try the 'speriment. So there cum on a
quarterly meetin' at the old man's, and I
'eluded that was the time to make my Jack.
I went on Saturday, wiz my face tolluble
long, and 'eluded I'd make a good start at
the 'ginnin'. Nobody knowed what was in
my head, more'n dander, till Sunday. When
they 'vited up mourners I went up, and you
may s'pose there was some racket jist then.
They all tuck on mightily. Besides Sally's
folks, the circus -rider prayed fur me, like
he was beatin' tan-bark off uv trees in dade
uv winter. They beat my back wusser nur
a nigger beatin' hominy in a mortar, jist like
'ligion could be beat inter a man, like maul-
in' rails out'n locked timber. The meetin'
DICK SNOW. 123
broke up, and I tried gittin' ligion a whole
week ; but I got along so shacklin' I 'eluded
I wouldn't waste my time, and quit short
off — short as pie-crust. So IVe nuver 'fessed
'ligion to this day ; I don't say this boastin'
— jist state the fact."
Here, for want of space, I leave my friend
Dick, only giving the reader, in the follow-
ing pages, an occasional glance at him.
124 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
Vn.— OLIVER STANLEY.
Oliver was quite a competitor in the line
of big story-telling, and came to that region
from the "seaboard."" It did him so much
good to spin his yarns and tell his feats that
you would feel perfectly at ease while he
laughed and "norated" one after another of
his "bully scrapes." I have room for but
two of them, though I could fill a volume.
But I must first attempt a description of
Oliver, though a photographer could not get
his inexpressibly eccentric features. He
was one of your rare men whose whole phys-
iognomy bids defiance to all picture-taking
He was a small, well-set man, with a sal-
low, dyspeptic complexion, black eyes, wide-
mouthed naturally, and it was generally
spread with uproarious laughter. His stout,
well-compacted body stood firmly upon, and
was carried with great ease and facility by, a
OLIVER STANLEY. 125
short, stubbed pair of benched legs and lit-
tle feet, after the Chinese fashion. Though
his skin was tanned yellow as a pumpkin by
the seaboard sun, yet he was strongly at-
tached to white garments, and with great
uniformity wore that color, to present, no
doubt, the striking contrast between white
cloth and a yellow skin. And, to give his
white shirt and pants some variety in color,
he was quite careful to besmear his front
well with tobacco.
But I must not take up too much time in
describing an indescribable man, and will
hasten to give the reader two of Oliver's sto-
ries, giving them in his own language ; and,
by the way, he was a good hand at coining
new words. His looks and laugh I can not
give, for they are not transferable to paper.
The first story is
THE ESCAPE FEOM THE WHALE.
"On the shank ov one monstracious nice
eveninV said the redoubtable Oliver, after
spitting a stream of tobacco-juice on a very
decent floor, "I toddled down to the sea-
board to git a bait ov oysters, feelin' consid-
126 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
dible qualmy 'bout my gizzard. I seen a
passel ov men com trucklin\to me, rockin'
along, see-saw one side, then see-saw t'other
side. They soon fixed thar tarnul peepers
on me, all on 'um at once, and charmed me
to the spot, like a black snake charms a
catbird, and I couldn't budge a peg for the
life on me. I were tetotatiously spellbound.
They come right chug up to me, and says one
on 'um, ' ] lellow, old landlubber ! Go with
us down to the boat, and we'll gin you a
gully whompin bait ov oysters.'
" So, by the same darned charm that had
chained me to that fatal spot, I was forced
oiF with 'um. I seen they was a string ov
sailors, but what o' that? They had sor-
cerized me, and I were a done-over sucker ;
so I jist gin up. No sooner had we 'rove at
the boat, instead o' feastin' me on gully-
whompin oysters, they nabbed me quick as a
snappin' turkle, put a gag in my mouf quick-
er nur yer could bridle a hoss, a bandage on
my peepers, tied me hand and foot like a
hog, shouldered me, and trolluped off with
me I couldn't 'jecter whar. I had ten thou-
sand idees in a minit, but to no use.
OLIVER STANLEY. 127
"'Way in the night they loosened me,
and I soon seen I were out on the 'Lantick
Pond, and says I, ' What on the face ov the
yeth does this mean T says I ; but they gin
me no answer but a great big hoss laugh.
Scissorifactions ! how mad I were. I felt
like I could a whipped a string o' wildcats
long as Tar Hiver. But thar they stood
with pistols 'nuff to make a corn-sifter ov
my hide afore you could bat yer eye, pint-
in' right at me, and said, 'No questions,
you landlubber, else well send you to Davy
Jones's Locker afore three strokes ov a mut-
"I soon seen that the jig were up, and
I mout as well cave in. So I jist laid down
and moseyed off to the land of Nod, and
staid in that blessed country ov forgitfulness
till mornin'. I had sich great respect for
the sun that I riz not till he did ; then the
cap'en come to me and explorated the whole
thing. He said they was scase ov sailors,
and thought they'd jist kidnump me, and
make a gentleman sailor ov me. I seen my
cake were dough, and that it warn't wuth
while to grieve arter spilt milk, and that I'd
128 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
make the best on it. I bowed, told him I
were at his sarvice, 'tarmined to make my
rent out'n 'um and 'feet my escape, whether
I got out'n the big eend or the little eend o'
the horn. So I went to work bully fashion.
" It were a custom ov the sailors to shave
when they crossed the equinox. So they
fixed to shave tharselves 'cordin' to this rule
when they got into the Topic of Capincorn.
Arter one on 'um, who acted as barber, had
shaved several on 'um, Avhich he done by
layin' 'um flat on thar backs, he said to me,
'Oliver,' says he, 'sprawl yerself leeward,
and let me shave you 'cordin' to the custom
o' the world-renowned craft.'
"Says I, 'What do you lather with?'
says I, for I had been 'spectin' thar nasty
" 'With hog's dung and tarpintine,' says
"I felt orful indignunt, and looked dag-
gerified at him, and said, ' Not I ! ' says I.
" 'You'll see,' says he, and made at me.
"'Never!' says I; and, suitin' action to
resolution, I kicked over the nasty gourd o'
shavin' soap smack into the sea, jumped
OLIVER STANLEY. 129
overboard, kitin' right arter it, co-souse!
head foremost, 'tarmined to die afore I'd
summit to sich an indignitorious shavin' as
"I duv 'bout one hundred and fifty yards,
riz to the top, and outswum like creation,
distancin' the sharks, and uvry other vinim-
us fish, fur eight hours, till a monstrus, maul-
bustin whale com upon me, and licked me
down like I'd been a year-old herrin'.
"I soon seen I'd 'jumped out'n the fryin'-
pan smack inter the fire, ' as the parrabal runs.
He piked right off wi' me, for all the world
like I'd been a tiny bullfrog — no more'n a
bug moufful fur him. When I landed at the
bottom uv his paunch, and had time to sur-
vey my parlor a little, I detarmined in less
nur no time that I warn 't a-gwine to staythar;
it were no place fur a white man well bred.
I didn't like the furnitur at all. Every thing
were so nasty, I detarmined to shift my board-
in' and lodgin' in short-metre time.
"I kep' in my pocket allers a tin water-
tight fixin', which I toated my smokin' ap-
perrattus in. So I detarmined to try what
vartue there were in 'baccer smoke, and see
130 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
ef I couldn't have a volcanic erucktion,
and be throwed out'n his krater like rocks
out'n Heckla. So I liberately took out my
pipe and 'baccer, flint, steel, and punk, struck
fire, crossed my legs, lit my pipe, and went
to smokin' like ketchin' herrin'. I nuver
axed liberty to smoke in that parlor, fur it
were so dirty I didn't think it wuth while to
be perlite ; so I soon filled that room with
rich smoke. In little ur no time it waked
up the old hoss, fur he soon shown signs uv
disapperbation at my oncommon liberty. I
didn't let on. Presuntly he begun to blow
like a iron forge ; but I smoked on, knowin'
the subject were comin' to an issue fast.
Soon the old feller begin to cast up fust one,
then another piece uv belly-furnitur, till at
last he were sharp enuff to guess that I were
the cause uv all the fuss in his 'dominal re-
gions ; so he gin me a rucktion, and sent me
'bout a hundred feet right up to'ads the good
world. But alas! my troubles was not
eended, fur I come down right on the flat uv
my back in the sea, co-slash !
"Soon as I struck water I whirled over,
quick as a cat, and moseyed ofi* fur tumma
E90APE FROM THE WHAT,!?.
OLIVER STANLEY. I33
fumma. My old inimy were perfectly sat-
isfied with me, and let me truckle off and
save my bacon, so fur as he were consarned.
So I drawed a bead fur land somewhar. I
swum fur a whole day with sich verlocity
that sea-sarpints, sharks, and uvry other vin-
imous monster uv the deep was no more to
me than snails a-crawlin'. Jist at night I
landed on a friendly island, and staid thar
till a vessel come along and tuck me in fifty
miles uv home, whar, through great mercy,
I landed next day, to the great joy and as-
tonishment uv my friends. "
The above are the particulars of this won-
derful adventure, "norated" without the
least fear of contradiction, as was ever indi-
cated in his looks of defiance. After a few
hearty laughs and a fi:'esh chew of tobacco,
he would introduce, with great gusto, his
INDLA.N AND BEAE STORY.
"Soon arter this kidnappering by the
sailors," said the imperturbable Oliver, "I
'eluded I'd best save my bacon by leavin'
the seaboard, and try my luck in the AUe-
134 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
gany Mountings ; fur this scrape had made
a rantankerous impression on me. So I
pulled up my stakes, which it warn't hard
to do, and piked off to a higher latitude. I
hadn't a doubt in my noggin but what I'd
far a nation sight better nur I had on the
seaboard. But hush, honey ! thar were no
rest fur Oliver Stanley, fur he were borned
to rough 'ventures. It is the lot uv great
men uvry whar, in uvry age.
"No sooner had I landed and marked
off a little spot uv yeth fur a home, and had
made a little deadnin' on it, than the cussed
red-skinned Injins 'vaded my peaceful hom-
icil, kidnumped me wusser ef possible nur
the tarnacious tompaulin sailors did, as jist
norated. When they got me 'way out inter
the mountings, where no huming but an In-
jin (ef they are humings) uver trod the sile,
after wavin', brandisherin', and gleameratin'
thar tommyhocks over my knowledge -box
for a long spell, and then thar butcher-knives
in the same threatnin' aspex, they helt a
council over my case, and after much glom-
eration of talk they decided to head me up
tight in a bar'l, and let me starve to death.
OLIVER STANLEY. I35
"This drefful detarmination they carried
into refect, for they had toated a ile barl all
the way with 'um on purpose, I s'pose. So
they jist loosened some uv the hoops at one
eend, tuck out the head, put me in, and
headed me up tight as ef I'd a bin old peach
brandy, all 'ceptin the bung-hole at one eend
fur me to git ar. Now ef the unhuman
critters had 'skluded all the ar, my wind
would a bin broke quick as crockery, and
ray troubles would a been eended, and me at
rest. But not so, bless you, mate! that
were too good fur an Injun. So they jist
left a bung-hole, inch and a half big, to feed
me with ar till I bolted out, be it long or
" They put me in, as jist norated, jabbered
a little, and left me to my own codgertations.
I codgertated and rumbinated fast, I tell
you, but it done no good. I soon got a-hon-
gry, which I allers had a rantankerous ap-
pertite, and thought uv uvry thing to eat,
good and bad, in all creation, pertic'ler uv
the big, lungin', fat oysters on the seaboard.
But it didn't suffy any thing ; it only whet-
ted my gizzard to think uv 'um. And the
136 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
nasty, stinkin', tarnacious old ile barl stunk
"So I detarmined to git out'n thar ur
bust a trace; and so I jist pounded away
with my fist, till I beat it nairly into a jelly,
at the eend uv the barl ; but it were no go.
Then I butted a spell with my noggin, but I
had no purchase like old rams have when
they butt, fur you know they back ever so
fur when they take a tilt. Now ef I'd a
had a purchase to a backed, I'd a knocked
the head out'n that barl to the astonish-
ment uv painters and wildcats' — fur the
woods was full on 'um, frum the racket
"So I caved in, made my last will and
testerment, and vartually gin up the ghost.
It were a mighty serious time with me, fur
sure. While I were lyin thar, balancin' ac-
counts with t'other world, and afore I had
all my figgers made out to see hoAv things
'ud stand, I hearn suthin' scrambulatin' in
the leaves, and snortin' uvry whip-stitch like
he smelt suthin' he didn't adzackly like. I
lay as still as a salamander, and thought.
Maybe there's a chance fur Stanley yit.
OLIVER STANLEY. I37
" So the critter, whatever it mout be, kep'
moseyin'' round the bar'l. Last he come to
the bung-hole, put his nose in, and smelt
mighty perticler, and gin a monstrous loud
snort. I helt what little breath I had, to
keep the critter from smellin' the intarnuls
uv the bar'l. I soon seen it were a bar —
the big king bar uv the woods, who had
lived thar from time immortal. Thinks I,
old feller, look out ; old Oliver ain't dade
yit. Jist then he put his big black paw in
jist as fur as he could, and scrabbled about
to make some 'scovery.
" The fust thought that struck my noggin
was to nab his paw, as 'a drowndin' man
will ketch at a straw ;' but I soon seen that
wouldn't do, fur, you see, he couldn't then
travel. Thinks I, 'There's luck in leisure,'
as I've hearn folks say, so 111 try it, wusser
fur better and better fur wusser, as the par-
son says when he marries folks. So I jist
waited a spell, with great flutterbation of
"His next move was to put his tail in
the bung-hole uv the bar'l to test its innards.
I seen that were my time to make my Jack ;
138 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
SO I seized holt, and shouted at the top uv
my voice, weak as it was,
" ' Charge, Chester ! charge !
On, Stanley ! on !'
And the bar he put, and I knowed tail holt
were better than no holt, and on we went,
barl and all, the bar at full speed. Now
my hope were that the bar would jump over
some presserpiss, brake the barl all to shiv-
erations, and liberate me from my nasty,
stinking, ily prison. And, sure 'nuff, the
bar at full speed, outrunning a scared wolf,
leaped over a catterrack fifty foot high.
Down we all went together in a pile, co-
whoUop, on a big rock, bustin' the barl all
to ilin derations, n airly shockin' my gizzard
out^n me. I let go my tail holt — had no
more use for it — and away went the bar like
a whirlygust uv woodpeckers were arter it.
IVe nuther seen nur hearn from that bar
since, but he has my best wishes fur his pres-
ent and futer welfar."
The foregoing are pretty fair specimens of
the story-telling of my old friend Oliver
LARKIN SNOW, THE MILLER. X39
VIII.— LARKm SKOW, THE MILLER.
Larkin Snow was doomed to be a miller.
I have ever believed that a man will fill the
station for which he was designed by the
Sovereign Master Overseer of mankind.
Though Providence designs a man for a cer-
tain position, natural causes and agencies
operate also, and, ere he is aware of it, he is
fulfilling his destiny. But I will not moral-
ize ; my business is with facts.
Larkin Snow was a graduate — an old
stager — in milling when I was a mill-boy ;
and the last time I heard of him, and no
doubt at this present time of writing, he is
grinding away at somebody's tub-mill, for he
never owned a mill — not he. Over a quar-
ter of a century ago I was a jolly, singing,
hoop-pee mill-boy, and carried many a
"grice" to William Easley's tub-mill on
"Little Fish E-iver," kept by my old friend
Larkin Snow. But where am I wandering?
140 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
After all, the reader must indulge me a
little while I pay a tribute of respect to the
numerous tub-mills of my native country,
for it does me good to think of them and of
my mill-boy days. Who has not been a
romping mill-boy ?
Well, I love tub-mills, and ever shall, for
my grandfather was the father of them in
that section. i
"But who is your grandfather?"
Never mind. Go and ask Larkin Snow,
for he knows every man that ever built a
mill, or ever kept one in that mountain ter-
ritory. His memory is a perfect genealogy
of mills and millers. Uncle Billy Lewis
built a tub-mill on nearly every mountain
branch (and they were numerous) where he
could get two or three customers. Uncle
Davy Lane, who figures largely in this vol-
ume, had a tub-mill on "Moore's Fork," as
lazy and slow in its movements as its owner.
The truth is. Uncle Davy had the advan-
tage, for "sarpunts" could move him to the
speed of electricity, but a "good head of wa-
ter" made but little diiFerence with his mill.
His son "Dave" kept it (said Dave was'
LARKIN SNOW, THE MILLER. 141
his daddy's own son), and he and I used
to bake "johnny-cakes" to keep from starv-
ing while it was grinding my "grice." We
ate nearly as fast as it could grind. But
my old neighbor, William Easley, had the
fastest tub-mill in all that country, on Little
Fisher's River, and Larkin Snow was his
Every man has ambition of some kind,
and Larkin, though nothing but a humble
miller who gloried in his calling, had his
share, and a good one too, of ambition. His
ambition consisted in being the best miller
in the land, and in being number one in big
story-telling. He had several competitors,
as may be seen from these sketches, but he
held his own with them all, even with Uncle
Davy Lane. The reader will judge best,
however, when he reads the stories given as
samples of Larkin's gift in that line. Lar-
kin must pardon us, should he ever see these
pages, for giving but two of his fine stories,
that of the eels and the fox-dog. These sto-
ries will do him ample justice.
Larkin Snow was a patient, kind, forbear-
ing-looking man, of ordinary size. His eyes
142 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
squinted, and so did his sallow features.
His dress was plain: tow and cotton shirt,
summer and winter ; striped cotton pants
in summer, and dressed buckskin ones in
winter; no coat in summer, a linsey hunt-
ing-shirt in winter. His hat was wool, turn-
ed up all round, gummed up with meal, and
so was his entire suit. His looks were
wholly unambitious — strange that he should
ever strive to excel in big story-telling. But
looks sometimes deceive one, and we will let
Larkin speak for himself in the
STORY OF THE EELS.
"Now, you see, while I were keepin' Mr.
Easley's mill," said Larkin, squinting his
eyes and features, showing the remains of
his little round teeth, nearly worn to the
gums chewing tobacco, "I planted me a
track patch near the bank uv the river, jist
below the mill-dam. I knowed I could
work it at odd spells, while the water were
low and the mill ran slow, and I jist filled it
with all sorts o' things and notions. But
as all on us, the old Quilt (his wife), childer-
ing, and all, was mighty fond o' peas, I were
LARKIN SNOW, THE MILLEE. ^43
mighty perticler to plant a miglity good
share uv them ; and to make a bully crap o'
Crowders and all other sorts o' peas uver
hearn on, I pitched them in the best spot uv
the little bit uv yeth, near the river, clost on
"We, the old Quilt and I, spilt sevrul
galluns uv humin grease workin' on 'um,
and they growed monstus nice. We was
a-congratterlatin' ourselves on the monstus
crap we'd make, when we seed suthin kept
crappin' 'um, perticler right on the bank uv
the river. Uvry mornin' it was wuss and
wuss. I soon seen the thing would be out
wi' my peas ef thar warn't a stop put to it,
fur thar wouldn't a bin a Crowder to sweet-
en our teeth with. I kept watchin' and
watchiri', but couldn't make the least 'scuv-
ry. The fence were allers up good, the gate
shot, and not the track of varmunts could be
seen nur smelt, har nur hide. I were mighty
low down in the mouth, I tell you. Starva-
tion huv in sight ; my sallet were meltin'
away mighty fast.
' ' I were so mightily taken down 'bout it
I couldn't sleep a wink ; so I thort I mout
144 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
as well watch. I sneaked along down to
the bank uv the river through my pea-patch.
The moon were shinin' mighty bright, and
what do you think I seen? I seen 'bout
five hundred big maulbustin eels dart into
the river out'n my pea-patch. I soon seen
through the dreadful Vastation uv my black-
eyed Crowders ; the pesky eels had done it."
"Dang it, Larkin," said Dick Snow,
"whar did sich a gullbustin chance uv eels
cum from f
"Eels, you see," continued Larkin, "ef
you knowed the natur on 'um, are mighty
creeturs to travel, and they'd cum up — a
host on 'um — fur as the mill-dam, and
couldn't git no furder. They had to live,
and they'd cotched uvry minner, and had
eat up uvry thing in the river about thar,
and they moseyed out on my pea-patch.
"Now I were fur from lettin' them eat
up my crap, so I put on my studyin' cap to
find out the best plan to make a smash uv
the whole bilin' on 'um. I soon hit the nail
on the head, and fixed on the plan.
"You see thar were but one place whar
they could git out'n the river inter my patch
LARKIN SNOW, THE MILLER. ^47
uv Crowders, and that were a narrer place,
'bout three foot wide, that crossed the river.
I knowed it warn't wuth while to try to hold
the creeters, they was so slickery ; so, you
see, I sot a big, whoppin barl near the river
whar they cum out, near thar path. I told
the old Quilt to fill it full uv dry ashes du-
rin' the day while I were grindin', which she
done, fur the old creetur thought a mighty
sight uv her pea-patch.
"Now when night cum on, and a dark
one too — a good night fur eels to graze, and
when I thort all on 'um was out a-grazin', I
sneaked along by the bank uv the river,
mighty sly, I tell you, till I got to the bar'l.
I then listened, and hearn 'um makin' the
peas wake ; so I jist turned the barl over
right smack in thar path, and filled it chug
full uv the dry ashes fur ten steps, I reckon.
I then went up in the patch above 'um, gin
a keen holler, and away they went, scootin'
fur the river. You nuver hearn sich a rip-
pin' and clatteration afore, I reckon. I
knowed I had 'um ; so, you see, I called fur
a torchlight to see my luck. Now when the
old Quilt and the childering brought the
148 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
light, hallaluyer ! what a sight. Sich a pile
on 'um, all workin' up together in the dry
ashes, like maggits in carron. The ashes
were the very thing fur 'um, fur they soon
gin up the ghost.
"I soon, you see, 'cided what to do with
'um. "We went to work and tuck out'n the
ashes five hundred and forty-nine, some uv
'um master eels. All the next day we was
a-skinnin', cleanin', and barrelin' on 'um up.
They'd got fat out'n my peas, but we got good
pay out'n 'um fur it. The fryin'-pan stunk fur
months with fat eels, and we all got fat and
sassy. So I were troubled no more with
eels that year ; fur I think, you see, we
shucked out the whole river."
This story he would tell you coolly, while
he would occasionally feel of his meal — while
the old tub-mill would perform its slow rev-
olutions as though it was paid by the year —
to see whether it was ground fine enough to
suit him. He would then give you one of
his peculiar looks, having just got his hand
in, and would tell you the story of the
LARKIN SNOW, THE MILLER. I49
Fox-hunting was a favorite sport with
many; indeed, all loved it, but only a few
kept hounds and gave chase to mischiev-
ous Reynard. Foxes were quite plenty, and
renowned for deeds of daring. The women
hated hounds most cordially, yet they would
endure them for the sake of their fowls. If
their fowls were destroyed, they could nei-
ther make soup nor their rich pot-pies, both
of which were much admired. Wylie Frank- s
lin was a great favorite with chicken-raisers, \
for if a hen-roost was invaded a hint to him \
was all that was needed, and the marauder
was soon taken. The compositions of Mo- ^
zart, Handel, and Haydn were no music to
these fox-hunters compared with the voice
of hounds in the chase. Sometimes there
would be a great rally of fox-hunters at
some point to have a united chase, to see
who had the fastest and the toughest hound.
This must be kept in view in reading the
story of Larkin's fast-running dog.
"You see," said Larkin, "a passel uv fel-
150 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
lers cum frum 'bout Eockford, Jonesville,
and the Holler to have a fox-hunt, and kep'
a-boastin' uv thar fast dogs. I told 'um my
little dog Flyin'-jib could beat all thar dogs,
and give 'um two in the game. I called
him up and showed him to 'um, and you
mout a hearn 'um laugh a mile, measured
with a 'coonskin and the tail throwed in. I
told 'um they'd laugh t'other side o' thar
mouths afore it were done. They hooted me.
"We went out with 'bout fifty hounds,
and, as good luck would hev it, we started a
rale old Yirginny red fox, 'bout three hours
afore day, on the west side uv Skull Camp
Mountin. He struck right off for the Sad-
dle Mountin, then whirled round over Scott's
Knob, then to Cedar Ridge, up it, and over
Fisher's Peak, round back uv the Blue Ridge,
then crossed over and down it at Blaze
Spur, then down to and over Bound Peak,
then Down Ring's Creek to Shipp's Muster-
ground, and on agin to'ads Skull Camp.
Not fur from Shipp's Muster-ground they
passed me, and Flyin'-jib Were 'bout half a
mile ahead on 'um all, goin' fast as the re-
port of a rifle gun. Passin' through a
LARKIN SNOW, THE MILLER, X51
meader wliar thar were a mowin'-scythe with
the blade standin' up, Flyin'-jib run chug
aginst it with sich force that it split him
wide open frum the eend uv his nose to the
tip uv his tail. Thar he lay, and nuver
whimpered, tryin' to run right on. I streaked
it to him, snatched up both sides uv him,
slajDped 'um together, but were in sich a hur-
ry that I put two feet down and two up.
But away he went arter the fox, scootin'
jist in that fix. You see, when he got tired
runnin' on two feet on one side, he'd whirl
over, quick as lightnin', on t'other two, and
it seemed ruther to hev increased his ver-
locity. He cotch the fox on the east side
uv Skull Camp, a mile ahead uv the whole
kit uv 'um.
"Now when the fellers cum up, and seen
all thar dogs lyin' on the ground pantin' fur
life, and Flyin'-jib jist gittin' his hand in, they
was mighty low down in the mouth, I war-
rant you. All the conserlation they had
was seein' my dog in sich a curious fix.
But I jist kervorted, and told 'um that were
the way fur a dog to run fast and long, fust
one side up, then t'other — it rested him. "
152 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
IX.— UNCLE BILLY LEWIS.
Clever old man ! little did he think that
his name would ever get "into prent," and
be ranked among the heroes of Fisher's Riv-
er. I know he never sought it ; however, I
love to honor an humble-minded man.
Uncle Billy Lewis came from the " Huck-
t'leberry Ponds," near Fayetteville. An un-
fortunate accident forced him, much against
his will, to leave his native section, to which
he was devotedly attached. But he was
quite a philosopher, and seemed cheerful and
hap23y in the mountains of Surry. He was
ever busy, either in building tub-mills across
the mountain creeks and branches, sitting on
his "hunkers" cutting out mill-stones in the
lonely mountains, or hunting deer, turkeys,
and bees in the wild forests. Not a lazy
bone in his tough, yellow-tanned skin. No
Cherokee Indian was more fleet on foot than
he. A quarter of a century has passed since
UNCLE BILLY LEWIS. I53
I saw him, yet his image is as indelibly fixed
on my mind as though I had seen him but
yesterday. He was an unforgetable man.
There he stands, full six feet high, well
put up for walking, more limbs than body.
His rifle and shot-pouch are prominent ob-
jects, for he wears them gracefully. It is
winter, and he has on his winter dress. Be-
gin at his head and look down to his feet.
He wears a smooth " 'coonskin*" fur hat,
glazed all over with sweat and grease from
his head, and looks black and sleek as a dan-
dy's boots. A walnut-dyed linsey hunting-
shirt, girded with a leathern belt — said belt
looks as if it might have come from oiF one of
Adam''s calves. His "jacket" is made of calf-
skin tanned with the hair on. His "britch-
es" are dressed buckskin, tight as the skin,
w^ith sole-leather buttons sewed on with a
leather thong. Instead of shoes, he wears
hoo;skin moccasins broo-ued with sole-leather.
He wears a tow and cotton shirt, and as to
drawers the deponent saith not.
But look at that odd face, long and lank,
yellow and thick-skinned ; forehead large
and high ; eyes large and white, dull-looking
154 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
and expressive of confidence in and generos-
ity toward men ; two large upper front teeth
sticking out of his mouth like iron wedges ;
his chin long and expressive of marvelous-
ness. The whole countenance combined says
Uncle Billy Lewis is an honest, confiding,
simple-hearted, artless man, easily duped by
wags and sharpers.
Uncle Billy could not speak plainly, was
a little tongue-tied, and then those iron-
wedged teeth prevented him firom articulat-
ing distinctly. Besides, he was naturally
disposed to be short and sententious in his
conversation, any way. But I must not be
too long in trying to bring the image of my
old friend before the reader's mind. Let
the old man, in his characteristic way, tell
you the story of
"This is a monstrous nice nis^ht to shine
old bucks' eyes. Uncle Billy ; s'pose we take
a fire-hunt," said a quiz to the old man, to
draw out of him the reasons that caused him
to leave the "Huckleberry Ponds" of Cum-
UNCLE BILLY LEWIS, 155
"It mout be," said Uncle Billy, with his
white, leaden eyes looking very sorrowfully,
"but I don' 'elude 111 fire-hunt no more.
That drefPul night that caused me to leave
good ole Cumberland I shall never forgit.
That wur the wust fire-hunt a poor mortal
ever got inter. It was a dark, drizzly night
— good night fur jacker-mer- lanterns and
old bucks. I took O'Pan, * loaded her heavy
with big buck drop-shot, which I bought in
Fayetteville with huckleberries, with pan and
torch on a shoulder ; got lost — led out'n my
way by a stinkin' jacker-mer-lantern. I went
bogin along, thought I was gwine right,
looked afore me, seed a whole heap o' bright
shiny eyes, turned the pan round and round.
' Shiny eyes — shiny eyes, ' says I ; ' now's the
time ! njow's the time ! '
"I whip up O'Pan, draw a bead — ^bang!
went O'Pan ; jingle, jingle, jingle went
chains. I see men comin' ; I throw down
O'Pan, light, and all, and took through the
huckleberry swamp like a 'coon. Here come
men arter me, sayin', ' Here he goes, boys !
here he goes ! '
* His musket.
156 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
''I run on, come to mud-pond, and in I
went, sock ! sock ! sock ! last up I go to my
armpits, and could go no furder. Men come
up and say, ' Here he went, boys ! here he
went ! ''
' ' I lay in the mud, still as a turkle, till
they lost me. When they left me I tried to
git out — had a hard time of it. Thar stood
a jacker-mer-lantern grinnin' at me. I rake
mud, fust with one hand, then with t'other —
rake, rake. Last out I cum, muddy as a
hog. I went home, told the fambly, left
that night, fambly follered, and all the poor
men got for my shootin' thar bosses was
O'Pan and my torch-pan. That was a
raem'ble night — never forgit — never fire-
UNCLE BILLY PREACHES.
Uncle Billy was a Baptist, and doubtless
a good man. The only thing that ever was al-
leged against him was shining the horses' eyes,
"liftin' up O'Pan, bang!" and making the
horses' chains go "jingle, jingle!" and then
leaving old Cumberland between two suns,
if that part of the story is correct. Wheth-
UNCLE BILLY LEWIS. ^59
er or not there were any horses killed, no de-
ponent has testified. It is probable Uncle
Billy thought going through the mud
' ' sock ! sock ! " sinking into the mud well-nigh
chin deep, and being grinned at Avhile in that
pitiable condition by that impudent and
wicked "jacker-mer-lantern," was a sufficient
atonement. At any rate, in old Surry, "by
his fruit" he was considered by all a good
I have intimated that he was a very cred-
ulous man, and easily imposed upon by
wags. He had wanted to preach for some
time — had some "loud calls" — but his
Church gave him no encouragement, believ-
ing; some one else was "called" and Uncle
Billy had answered. He was not "slow of
speech, " but he could lay a good claim to a
"stammering tongue." His brethren, on
that account, thought he could not "edify
There were, however, a few "outsiders"
who urged the old man to "exercise his
gift." Bill Holder, Hen Holder, Ike Puck-
ett, Bill Auberry, Shack Gallion, and others,
encouraged him to "hold forth." "They
1,30 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES,
wouldn't ax the Church no boot, no how.
He were a free man. Well make you up
the biggest crowds ef you'll jist hold night
The thing took. There was a shrewd
man, Jim Blevins, in whom Uncle Billy had
unbounded confidence, who urged him for-
ward to his "duty." Jim's advice was
taken, and Uncle Billy made several ap-
pointments, and had "thundering crowds,"
mostly young people for their amusement.
There they sat, with their "heads bowed
down like the loonsome bulrush," as Uncle
Billy poetically expressed it, weeping over
their sins, as he thought, but the wicked
creatures were laughing.
Jim Blevins always attended, and manu-
factured a good portion of the old man's
thunder — would tell him what to say to " re-
larm the wicked folks." The last sermon
Uncle Billy ever preached, Blevins, his Vul-
can, manufactured some heavy thunderbolts
Jim told him, one evening before he
preached, that he had " suthin' relarmin' to
tell him," That he had been that day on
UNCLE BILLY LEWIS. IgJ
the Bald Rock on Fisher's Peak, and while
sitting under a bunch of bushes near the
edge of the Bald Rock, it being very hot, he
saw a huge flying snake in the air above
him, fall twelve feet long, with a stinger at
the end of his tail at least twelve inches
long, and its eyes were like balls of fire. It
would fly round the Peak and the Bald
Rock, looking first on one side, then on the
other, screaming worse than a panther. "I
sloped," continued Jim, "back uv Fisher's
Peak, but it were like jumj^in' out'n the fry-
in'-pan inter the fire ; for thar I hearn a
yahoo. It was a-bawlin' loLider than a can-
non, ' ya-hoo ! ya-hoo ! ' I hid, and it come
by in thirty yards liv me. What a bustin
critter it was ! It had horns ten foot long,
mouth as big as a hogshead, and teeth long
as a sword and sharp as a razor. The way
it kills things is, it gits them on its horns,
and keeps tossin' them up till they are dead
as a herrin', then he swallows them down
slick as a bar swallerin' down a piece uv
honey-comb. Uncle Billy, you ought to
warn the people uv thar drefful danger this
night. I've discharged my duty in tellin'
162 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
you, and I now leave it with you to clare
yer skirts of thar blood. "
That was enough. The conscientious old
man felt newly commissioned, and more
thunder to his former stock was added. He
met his audience, commenced, and soon got
through the doctrinal part of his sermon,
and then came to the "pathetic part." I
shall only attempt to give the closing part
of his exhortation. With great earnest-
ness in his sad, woe-begone countenance, he
"Sinner, you'd better 'pent! Danger
abroad! Look out, I tell ye. Skin yer
eyes good. Open yer ears wide. Listen,
that you may hear. Your blood mout be
'quired o' me. Jim Blevins seen — O sin-
ner, 'pent and listen — Jim Blevins seen —
O my soul! — Jim Blevins went on Fisher's
Peak this mornin', and to the Baw' Rock,
got tired, sot down under bunch o' bushes
to rest, and what did he see ? O my soul !
Sinner, 'pent! He seen a flyin' snake —
drefFul critter — twelve foot long, stinger
'bout a feet long, eyes red like balls o' fire
from Pandermonium — O sinner, 'pent ! My
UNCLE BILLY LEWIS. Igg
bowels yearns over you — lookin' fust this
way, then t'other, to see what he could see,
and a-squallin' wusser nur a painter — O sin-
ner, 'pent ! — ^'pent, I tell you, else yer a gone
sucker. For sartin and for sure, ef he pops
his stinger inter you, yer gone world 'thout
eend, amen, 'thout the benefit o' clargy.
"But, sinner, flyin' snakes is mighty bad ;
bad as they is, howsomever, 'tain't nothin'
to what Jim Blevins seen arter that. ' Jim,
soon as the flyin' snake went out'n sight, he
run over back o' Fisher's Peak, and — O my
soul ! — what did he see ? A yahoo, sinner —
a yahoo ! Jim hid, and it past along close
by, and it was high as a house, horns ten
foot long, mouf big as a hogshead — 'pent,
sinner, 'pent ! It run by Jim, hollerin' ' ya-
hoo ! ya-hoo ! ' louder nur cannon at the bat-
tle o' Guilford Court-house, whar 'Wallis
was font by Greene. Jim says the way he
kills folks — sinner, 'pent! — he gits you on
his horns, he tossee up — he tossee up, jist
like trouncin' a bullfrog, till life clean gone —
'pent, sinner, 'pent! — then he'll take you in
his mouf, and he'll lick you down like a
hongry bar does a piece o' honey-comb, as
154 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
Jim Blevins says. Sinner, I Ve warned you ;
I'm clare o' yer blood. Ef that fiyin' snake
or that yahoo gits you, you can't blame me
fur it. No, don't blame the old man nur
The above discourse came to the ears of
Uncle Billy's church, and they "called in
his gift." But he never quit cutting out
mill-stones, making tub-mills, and hunting
bees long as his "head was above the yeth."
X.— JOHN SENTER.
At the mere mention of the name of John
Senter I am carried in a moment to a little
farm near the head of Little Fisher's River,
upon which Fisher's Peak looks doAvn with
awful grandeur and majesty. This little
farm is divided by the river, narrow strips
of bottom land on each side, and then come
in abrupt, steep hills. John Senter inherit-
ed this isolated piece of "yeth*" from his good
old father, Zack Senter. In a little cabin
on the side of a steej) laurel-hill (and a hill
there is a hill), on the west side of the river,
lives my friend John Senter, of happy mem-
ory. I defy any man to forget the place, or
the man who owns it, after a view of both.
When I saw my friend's cabin in 1857, I
took it to be in size about ten feet by eight-
een ; the board roof was fastened on by
"weight-poles," somewhat after the Indian
fashion; no "loft" in it; puncheon floor,
IQQ FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
split out of trees with his own hands ; chim-
ney made of sticks and clay ; two or three
log joists extended across, not above my
head, but above the head of John and fami-
ly, for they were "short stock." On these
joists were hung, by way of ornament prob-
ably, and certainly for profit, some "pos-
sum" skins and "'coon" skins, and some
other fur skins too tedious to mention. I
was not much pleased with their perfume,
but bore for half an hour what they did all
the time. The door, on the down-hill side
of the "house," was sufficiently high to ad-
mit a reasonably tall man without stooping ;
but that door was not allowed to be used
then, for the "lower yard," up to the door,
was a fine green Irish potato patch. A lit-
tle path led me through a patch of rye to
the "upper yard," which was about three
feet wide of level ground, and this narrow
yard was dug out of the side of the hill. I
halted, and my head was above the eave of
the house. I stooped down to look for the
door, and, behold, it was there, about four
and a half feet high — not an inch higher. I
saw John's good wife, Hollin, daughter of
JOHN SENTER. 157
Oliver Stanley, of "whale" and "bar" mem-
ory, busily engaged in sewing, when the fol-
lowing salutations were passed in primitive
' ' How do you do, Mrs. Senter ?" I asked.
' ' Lausyday, Hardy ! is that you ? I hearn
you had come back to see yer old stompin
ground. Come in."
" Thank you, " I replied ; "I will if I can
"Stoop low, and you'll come it."
I obeyed, went in, but was greatly disap-
pointed in not seeing my old friend John.
Upon inquiry, I found he had gone out that
day " harvestin'. " My object was two-fold:
to see my old friend John and family, and
to get one of his wooden-bottomed shoes to
take into my section as a curiosity to proud,
spendthrift, "fast" young cocksparrows, and
to ultimately deposit it in some college as a
monument to John's genius and economy,
and a wonder to all beholders. He had in-
vented and worn them before I left that sec-
tion in 1829, and I wished to know whether
he wore them still.
"Mrs. Senter," I inquired, "does John
168 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
wear his wooden - bottomed shoes nowa-
" Lausy, yes ; he couldn't live 'thout 'um.
He made me wear 'um for two long, tejus
years ; but they was so nation heavy I told
him, right fiatfooted, I'd go barfooted afore
I'd wear 'um, both summer and winter,
through frost and snow, heat and cold. Him
and Sol and Zack (his sons) wear 'um still,
and will, I reckon, long as thar heads is
above the yeth, and I wouldn't be s'prised
ef the ole man had his'n buried with him."
"Did he wear them off to-day?"
"No, not him; he went barfooted."
" Over the rocks, and in the briers of the
"Shucks! his feet is tough as grissle."
"Will you be so kind as to let me look
at them ?"
"Sartinly; but they're mighty odd-look-
ing critters — jist like the old man, though."
Kind Hollin went to a bed, brought them
out, and threw them down before me. ' ' Take
care," said she, "else they'll mash yer toes
The admonition was a timely and a benev-
JOHN SENTER. 169
olent one, as the reader will see by the de-
scription. The bottoms were made of " dog-
wood," and where they were not much worn
they were an inch and a half thick. In the
heels were driven several large nails, resem-
bling horse-shoe nails, of his own make,
also one large nail on the side of the bottom,
at the "ball" of the foot, to answer the two-
fold purpose of giving the shoe some spring
or elasticity, and to keep him from slipping
on the mud, snow, or ice. The vamps were
made of tanned hogskin, kept soft somewhat
by "'possum grease. The quarters were cow-
leather tanned in a log trough. Then there
were leggins of tanned buckskin tacked on
to the quarters, that came up the leg, to
keep out snow in winter, and to ward off
snakes in summer when he went hunting, and
were laced up with "whangs." The leather
was tacked on to the wooden bottoms with
tacks — nails, rather — of his own making.
He was too much of an economist to "buy
tacks out'n the cussed stores."
I was anxious to procure one from Hol-
lin, but could not, as the reader will learn
from the following brief dialogue :
170 FISHER'S KIVER SKETCHES.
"Mrs. Senter," I inquired, "can I get
one of these shoes for love or money ? Set
your own price on it, and the money shall
" That I won't ! I know the ole man too
well fur that. I mout as well, and better
too, sell his Sunday furred hat. Come agin
and see him ; he mout let you hev one."
"It will be out of my power ; I must re-
turn in a day or two, " said I.
"Well, I knows what's what."
Next day I sent 'Squire West Freeman,
and he, by paying pretty dearly for it, pro-
cured me one. Should any one wish to see
said shoe, he can find it labeled "A Fisher's
Kiver (North Carolina) Dancing Pump, " and
deposited among the many curiosities — and
the greatest curiosity of them all — of the
East Alabama Baptist Female College, Tus-
But this cabin and this eccentric wooden-
bottomed shoe have led me astray. I must
return, and give the reader some further
"insight" of friend John.
John Senter is about five feet seven inches
high, round-shouldered, so much so that he
JOHN SENTER. ]^7j[
crosses his "galluses" (leather) before and
behind to keep his "britches" on him, very
thin visaged, yellow ' ' pumpkin" skin, tough
and wrinkled. His eyes are small and scowl-
ing. His features are hard and rigid, indica-
tive of spleen and general suspicion. His
beard is long, full of dirt and "swingle-tow"
(he is a good hand to break and clean flax).
His movements are irregular, sometimes
rapid, then slow and thoughtful. His im-
pulses govern his movements in his own per-
son and in his intercourse with others. His
dress is equal in eccentricity to his looks,
conversation, and movements. His sum-
mer hat is either wheat, rye, or oat straw,
of his own manufacture invariably. His
winter hat is wool, bought from the hatter
with lambs' wool. His "Sunday go-to-
meetin' " hat is an old-fashioned, smooth,
bell-crowned fur hat — his wedding hat,
doubtless — which was purchased with 'coon,
rabbit, mink, and musk-rat skins. His ev-
ery-day coat was a "round-about," striped
round like a "'coon's" tail. For Sunday
and a "go-abroad" coat he wore a striped
cotton, sharped, long, swallow-tailed coat.
172 riSHEE'S KIVEE SKETCHES.
In winter he wore "britclies" of tanned
sheepskin. His "jacket" was striped Tur-
key red cotton. His shirt was tow and flax,
with the collar so long that it hung down
on his shoulders like the cape of an old-
fashioned "big coat." His shoes have been
John was very fond of litigation. With
him "to be in law" was no small idea. His
splenetic nature naturally inclined him that
way. Such was his fondness for law and
of his attendance upon justice's court, that
'Squire Freeman's wife would not consent
for "court" to be held in her house. She
had two potent reasons: first, all the liti-
gants begaumed her house with tobacco-
juice ; and, second, John's wooden-bottomed
shoes, with their horse-shoe nails, made a
marhed impression on it. The "'squire,"
therefore, held "court" in the cook-house.
I went into said "kitchen" to see the havoc
John had made of the floor with his shoes,
and it was as if a fresh-shod horse, or mule,
rather, had been stabled in it.
JOHN SENTER. I73
To show you John's fondness for law, I
will give you one instance in proof. He
once sued Ben Carson on the following
items, and had a regular trial :
Item 1. One half gallon soap-grease.
Item 2. One half pint salt.
Item 3. One half gallon sifted meal.
Item 4. Three plants of tobacco.
Poor Ben was "cast," and 'Squire Free-i
man rendered judgment in John's favor. i
The marriage relation is the most time-
honored institution in the world, and God,
by making it the first^ has sufficiently dem-
onstrated its utility. It has withstood the
rude and cunning assaults of base men and
disorganizers in all ages. It has been hon-
ored in all nations from the king down to
the rudest peasant. In the region of which
I am treating they strictly obeyed the injunc-
tion, " Multiply and replenish the earth," as
though it was "the first commandment with
promise. " They were unlike the disobedient
young people of this age, who wait till they
make a fortune before they marry ; they, like
174 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
sensible folks, married first, " and scuffled for
their fortins arterwards. '^ Now who can
blame their course ?
Now and then we see a hopeless case —
one whom we think never can marry. Na-
ture, in her sovereignty, has denied such per-
sons beauty, talents, and wealth. Their
chances for "holy wedlock" would be bad
in some cruel, fastidious sections ; not so in
that section where Nature holds her sway
without the artificial wants and rules of "re-
finement." All marry there, whether they
have beauty, talents, or wealth. There ap-
pears to be a sort of happy destiny, in this
respect, for them all. They may be shaped
like fat-stands or look like toys, it is all the
same, they marry.
Of course, John Senter's children must
not be an exception — they must marry.
Now it came to pass that his son Sol took
it into his head to marry. Dwarfish-look-
ing and crippled as he was, he came to the
rational conclusion, " It is not good for man
to be alone, " in a section, too, where marry-
ing was so popular and fashionable.
It was not difficult for him to find a per-
JOHN SENTER. I75
son of like feeling in Sally Spencer, daugh-
ter of Polly Spencer, who lived in the face
of the Blue Ridge,, near the Blaze Spur. In
addition to their warm affection for each
other, an accident to each one had increased
their attachment. Sol had had a white-swell-
ing in his right leg, which had lamed him for
life, and Sally's left leg had been broken,
which made her equally lame. It looked
like a bad chance for a support, for, in addi-
tion to these mishaps, they were as poor as
"Job's turkey." But they loved each oth-
er, and were willing to link their destiny to-
gether, and "take one another better fur
wusser and wusser fur better, " in the graphic
language of Bob Snipes, who shall tell the
story of their wedding. Said Bob Snipes
is a plain-spoken fellow, and tells stories in
his own way.
"Now I was a-workin' fur 'Squire Free-
man one flinderin hot day," said Bob, "and
who should I see but Sol Senter come hop-
a-kickin' along over the plowed yeth, through
the cornfield, throwin' his game leg around
like a reap-hook, and when he come up to
the 'squire and me he was sweatin' like a
176 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
coal-kill. Says I, ' Sol, don't knock down
all the corn with that reap-hook leg o' yourn. '
He nuver said a word to me, but buckled up
to the 'squire, like a little dog does to a big
one when he wants to show out, and, says
"''Squire, I's come to swap work with
you. Times is so hard, and I want's to
work a day or two fur you to go as fur as
dad's to marry me. I won't ax you to go
as fur as Sally's house, which you know is
three miles above dad's ; but jist go to dad's,
and I'll go and fetch Sally down thar. It
shall never be said that Sol Senter got 'Squire
Freeman to marry him fur nothin', and it
mout be swappin' work mout do jist as well. '
"When Sol eended his speech, he looked
'mazin' anxious to hear what the 'squire'd
say. The 'squire was a monstrous 'commer-
datin' man, and, says he, ' Good as wheat in
the mill-hopper, Sol ; work for me a day,
and keep up with Bob Snipes' (here the
'squire gin me the wink), 'and I'll go.'
"I'll be dinged ef, when the 'squire said
that, Sol didn't look as big as Nibuchadnee-
zer and as rich as Festus ; and, thinks I,
JOHN SENTER 177
'Ef you keep up with me (I was a-hoein"'
corn), youll not be fit to marry ('twas orful
hot) soon.' s
"The little feller catched holt of a hoe,
and at it we went like a wliirlygust uv wood-
peckers. I tell you the train-ile streamed
out'n both on us ; but Sol buckled up ter
me like a man. The thoughts o' marryin'
steamed him up like a blowed-up bladder.
It's anuff to say that we went it like blazes
fur a whole day, and nuver did the 'squire
have as many weeds killed in one day by
two mortals, and one on 'um a little game-
leg, taller-face, ill-begotten, turkey-trotten'
"The work over, Sol he fixed his day, and
axed me to his weddin', to come with the
'squire. Says he, ' Come, and as I've showed
you how I kin work, I'll show yer how I
kin marry too ; and I'll show yer the pur-
tyest gal in the whole face uv the Blue
Hidge, ur in any o"* the knobs around about. '
"'Look out fur me,' says I, 'fur Bob
Snipes nuver takes a banter from no one,
man nur 'omun.'
"The 'squire and me started tolluble
178 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
yearly one mornin', intendin' to take ur time
fur it in the cool uv the day. We had to
walk, fur narry a man on God's green yeth
could git to John Senter's a hossback, it
is so shot up with hills and blocked wid
fences. "We tuck right up Little Fish E,o ov-
er (the 'squire lives on it, well as John) till
we come to whar Maid Holder was a-plow-
in\ and ding my skin ef he warn't a-plowin'
in his shirt-tail, 'thout anuther thing on
him, 'ceptin' his old greasy wool hat. Says
" ' Give an account of yerselves. Whar's
yer pass? What you trespassin' on my
deadnin' fur? Whar you moseyin' to?
Bob Snipes, what you dressed up in the
week fur fine as the 'squire ? Speak, else
I'll larrup you both,'
"We had to satisfy the outdacious var-
munt, and axed him to go with us. Says
he, ' I'll go, ef you'll jist let me go as I am.'
'In yer shirt-tail?' says I. 'Yes,' says he.
' Not I, long as yer shirt-tail is, ' says I ;
and it was one uv the most onconcionable
long shirt-tails I uver seen. It come down
a long gap below his knees.
JOHN SENTER, 179
"We left Maid gee-hawin' away, and
piked on to John's. We went in, and thar
sot John on a short-legged stool in the chim-
bly corner, lookin' fur all the world like a
man that had got out'n his bed wrong eend
foremost that mornin'. He was sulky and
ashy, I tell you. He hardly axed us to set
down. The 'squire kep' axin' John ques-
tions, to try to git him to spill some words,
but his jaws were locked, as it were. Hollin
and his darter was a-fixin' away, sorter like
they was glad, but uvry now and then John
kep' flingin' out some uv his slang at 'um
'fur fixin"" so much fur them crij)pled cree-
turs, that had 'bout as much business a-mar-
ryin' as two 'possums.'
"The 'squire he made him hush his foul
jaw, but he sot watchin' Hollin and the lit-
tle darter, and got madder and madder,
swellin' like a bullfrog. Last he riz right
smack up, and, says he, ' I wouldn't be a-fix-
in' so much fur a couple uv ground-hogs,
heffer-on-my-haslit ef I would.' He looked
like he could a made a meal out'n a kag uv
tenpenny nails, fur all the world.
"He then moseyed off to a bed, and
180 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES,
drawed out from under it a whoppin' big
gourd, with a great big corn-cob stopper in
it. He sot it on the table, got a pewter cup,
pulled out the stopper, and 'chug^ it went
as it come out. I soon larned from the
smell on it that it was apple brandy, and
white-faced at that. He poured out a cup-
ful, and gin it to the 'squire fust, who bussed
the cup a little, and then I bussed it. John
he bussed it, and kep' a-bussin' it wusser nur
a man would a purty gal, till he got in a
monstrus good humor. I was mighty glad
to see the refect the ole white-face brandy
had upon him, fur I was nation tired uv his
snaps and snarls.
" Jist as John had got in a good humor
from bussin' Mrs. Whiteface, and had begun
to spill his words right fast, we looked up
the hill toward the Blue Ridge, and we sees
Sol and Sally, dressed in thar best, a-comin'
down the hill afoot, side and side, and the old
lady a-traipin' along arter 'um, Sol throwin'
his game leg round one way, from right to
left, and Sal a-throwin' hern around t'other
way, from left ter right. They kep' good
time. Sal's mammy looked mighty loon-
JOHN SENTER, lg3
some bringin' up the rear. They came in,
sat down, and John — ding him ! — peared to
be as glad to see 'um as any on us.
" Soon as they had blowed a little (it was
dingnation hot), and had wijDed the train-ile
out'n thar eyes, the 'squire he tied the Goug-
in knot" (the Gordian knot, I suppose Bob
meant), "and we all wished 'um much joy,
John 'mong the rest. (I wanted to knock
him down, arter doin' as he had done.)
The corn-cob stopper was pulled out'n the
gourd, 'chug,' agin and agin, and we kep'
bussin' the pewter cup, and we chatted away
like blackbirds, 'ceptin' the 'squire, with 'bout
as much sense.
"Dinner cumed next. The pot hadn't
bin idle all the time ; it kep' bilin' away,
pottle, wottle, pottle, wottle. Hollin she
sot the table along side uv the bed, to sarve
in the place uv chairs on one side, and a
long bench on t'other side, and a short bench
on each eend. It was one of these here
cross-leg tables — none uv yer quality cuts.
John Senter was none uv yer quality men ;
he opposed and hated all quality idees ; nor
would he 'low a quality dinner. He wouldn't
134 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES,
low but one dish, ef the 'squire was thar.
He wouldn't have a pie, nur a puddin', nur
nuthin' o' the sort. Hollin she tuck up the
dinner, and ding my skin ef it warn't a sure-
anuff dinner. Thar was a great big pewter
dish full uv stewed chicken and rye dump-
lin's, with chunks uv bacon mixed up, anuff
to sorter season it. The rye dumplin's, some
on 'um, was as big as corn-dodgers, and some
on 'um, which the seasonin*' hadn't toch, was
tough as whitleather, and you mout a knock-
ed a bull down with 'um. But, howsomev-
er, as Mrs. Whiteface, who dwelt in the
gourd, had whettened our appetites, we done
"When dinner was over, the 'squire and
me thought fur decency's sake we wouldn't
leave right oiF, so we sot a little while ; but
we soon seen that John — ding him! — was
a-gittin' monstrus onpatient. He kep' friv-
itin' about. Mrs. Whiteface had died away
in him, and, ding him ! he was too stingy to
buss her any more, and the evil sjDerrit come
on him agin. Last he walled up his eyes,
and baAvled out, ' You Zack ! (his other son),
you Zack ! ' ' Here ! ' says Zack. ' You go
JOHN SENTER, 185
and gear up that bull' (John allers plowed
a bull ; he wouldn't hev a horse), ' and you
go to plowin', and 111 go to hoein'. Heffer-
on-my-haslit ef it'll do to be wastin' so much
time a-weddinin'. '
"Arter this speech the 'squire and me
And this is as much space as I can allow
my old friend John Senter. If all his rich
sayings and eccentric doings were written
out, they would fill quite a volume. Now
the rest of the acts of John Senter, all that
he said and did, how he made wooden-bot-
tomed shoes, how he worked in the harvest
fields barefooted, how he lawed the people at
the justice's courts, how he loved apple bran-
dy, and danced the "double shuffle," etc.,
etc., are they not written in the memory of
all who know him ?
He has not yet slept with his fathers.
IQQ FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
XI.— REV. CHARLES GENTRY.
I MUST not entirely omit the negroes, as
some of them were men of renown. I have
made honorable mention of "Gingy-cake
Josh Easley." What the people would
have done for "gingy- cakes" at their mus-
ters and public gatherings I can not tell, had
it not been for clever Josh. Josh was re-
spected by all, white and black. His mas-
ter moved to Missouri, and there Josh died.
He used to keep us all alive singing corn
songs at " corn-shuckings. "
I could mention many good and clever ne-
groes, but will only pay my respects to Rev.
Charles Gentry. Charles was a Baptist
preacher, and belonged to "Shelt Gentry."
His master and mistress were Baptists, and
Charles was quite a privileged character.
Next to Bev. Pleasant Cocker, Charles stood
highest in their estimation. He was not
without "gifts," nor was he destitute of a
REV. CHARLES GENTRY. Ig7
proper amount of vanity. As to grammar, if
he ever heard of it, he had no use for it, not
he. His theology was not always sound,
yet a good deal of it was quite original, as
the two extracts from his sermons which I
shall give the reader will abundantly prove.
Rev. Charles had sl penchant for controversy,
and was often running up against established
views, and upsetting them by the force of
his cataract voice and rail-mauling gestures,
if not by argument.
Naturalists have for ages been trying to
account for the different forms and complex-
ions of men. Some will have them to be of
different races, not all descended from the
same pair, Adam and Eve. Others contend
that all have descended from the same pair,
but climate and accidental causes have made
the difference ; hence Professor A and Pro-
fessor B have their diverse theories and their
disciples and admirers. When men leave
the plain teachings of the Bible and go into
vague speculations, one man's hypothesis is
nearly as good as another ""s.
188 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
THE ORIGIN OF THE WHITES.
"^ I will now give my readers a new theory
from the lips (for negroes do not write) of
the Rev. Charles Gentry, and commend it to
the consideration of Professor Agassiz and
Dr. Nott. The Rev. Charles Gentry was
" explanifying" to his "bredderin ob color*"
how the first white man came into existence.
He held forth on this wise :
"Beloved bredderin, de white folks ar
clean out of it when dey "'firm dat de fust
man was a white man. I'm not a-gwine to
hab any sich doctering. De fact is, Adam,
Cain, Abel, Seth, was all ob 'um black as
jet. Now you 'quire how de white man
cum. Why, dis a-way. Cain he kill his
brudder Abel wid a great big club — he walk-
in'-stick — and God he cum to Cain, and say,
' Cain ! where is dy brudder Abel T Cain
he pout out de lip, and say, ' I don't know ;
what ye axin' me fur ? I ain't my brudder
Abel's keeper.' De Lord he gits in airnest,
and stomps on de ground, and say, ' Cain !
you Cain ! whar is dy brudder Abel ? I
REV. CHARLES GENTRY. I39
say, Cain ! whar is dy brudder V Cain he
turn white as bleach cambric in de face, and
de whole race ob Cain dey bin white ebber
since. De mark de Lord put on de face ob
Cain was a white mark. He druv him inter
de land ob Nod, and all de white folks hab
cum frum de land ob Nod, jis"* as youVe
V, JONAH AND THE WHALE.
Some divines, to pacify infidels and skep-
tics, and make, as they suppose, the Bible
more acceptable to them, have a knack of
explaining the miraculous truths of the Bi-
ble on natural principles and according to
the teachings of human wisdom, and their
preaching and expositions are, to say the
least of it, semi-infidelic. Bev. Charles Gen-
try had heard one of those preachers some-
where who explained all miracles according
to natural sequences. Charles had any
amount of ambition, and wished to show his
"larnin'" in the same way. Accordingly,
at his next appointment, he delivered a
learned dissertation on Jonah and the whale.
He held his audience "spellbound" for some
190 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
time, but I can only give the narrative part
of the able discourse. It was as follows :
"Dearly beloved brudderin, dar is much
said about dis Jonah and de whale business ;
a heap a-spoutin' about it, tryin' to outspout
de whale hisself ; but one half on 'um don't
know what dey talkin' 'bout ; dis chile does,
howsomeber, 'bout de whole matter. Den
listen, dat ye may hear. Well, Jonah he
tries to git away from de Lord, and he gits
in a ship — a big un, too — and tinks dat is
de place fur him ; but he miss him fur as ef
he'd a burnt he shirt. Dar Jonah he lie
snug in de ship as a flea under a nigger's
shirt collar. But, bless you, brudderin ! de
Lord he raise a mighty whirlygust, and de
ship he rock to and fro like a drunkard
man. De men dey guess what was de mat-
ter, and dey cum and take Jonah by de nap.
o' de neck and de hind part o' de britches,
and swing him backuds and foruds ; last dey
pitch him head foremost, co-souse^ inter de
"De whirlygust he stop right smack.
But, bless de Lord ! whar Jonah ? A great
big fish he cum up and lick him down like
REV. CHARLES GENTRY. XQl
salt — hardly a bug moufful fur sich a big
whoppin feller. Jonah, when he gits down
inter de paunch o' de fish, he squawks out,
' O Lord, what hab I done T De fish he say,
'Hush yer mouf!' And de fish he swim,
swim, swim, and kep' a-swimmin', and Jonah
he bawls out de same ting. De fish he gits
more in airnest, and say, ' Hush yer mouf, I
tell yer!' and on he swim, swim, swim, till
he cum to de Luxine Sea, as de white folk
call him, but I call him Black Sea, 'caze he's
black as jet, like a nigger.
"But pardon dis 'gression.
"When de fish he gits inter de Persian
Gulf, near de mouf ob de old Euphrates,
Jonah he gits mighty restless, and cries out
agin, ' O Lord, what hab I done T De fish
he tell him to hush agin. No use ; Jonah
he holler louder and louder. De fish no
mind him. Now Jonah he hab mighty
sharp finger-nails, and he use 'um good, I
tell yer. He begin ter claw and scratch the
fish's paunch, 'tarmined to git out'n dar.
De fish he gits sick in de craw, and he swim,
swim, swim right fur land, 'tarmined to throw
him up to dry. And, sure 'nufF, he gin one
292 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
great big hee-oh, and out cum Jonah right
on de flat of he back on de bank.
'' De Lord he say to him, ' Gwine to preach
now, Jonah?' Jonah he say, 'Yes, Lord,
dat I will !' and off he moseyed to Nineveh,
and done some ob de biggest preachin' ye
ubber hearn tell on. Dis, brudderin and
sisterin, is de true varsion ob Jonah and de
whale. All de rest is false, and rotten as
JOSH JONES AND HASH-HEAD SMITH.
Josh Jones and Hash-head Smith were
both men of renown in this belligerent and
romantic section. They made their mark
upon their generation, in fist-fighting and
scratching, if in nothing else. Josh had
picked up a few Latin sentences and phrases,
and could use them when he chose with
great facility and dexterity. The people all
hated " larnin' and college lingo," and
though Josh's vernacular was no better than
his neighbors' ; nevertheless, his borrowed
Latin made him quite a "larned man." He
had the art of having his comrades in a fine
glee in one moment, and "all to ilindera-
tions" the next, "fightin' rantankerus mad."
He was the most popular and agreeable man
in the crowd till his mischievous propensity
forced him to blurt out, ^^ e pluribus unum,''''
''''ipse dixit^'^ ^^ sine qua non^'''' ^''sic transit
194 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
gloria mundi^'''' etc., and it was as if you had
assaulted a ball-hornet's nest.
Our friend Smith was a chunky, well-set,
muscular man, with a large buffy head, so
large and destitute of brains that Martin
Falkner, a shrewd wag, gave him the name
of "Hash-head Smith," though he was ver-
itably John Smith. Hash-head differed from
most fleshy men, who are said to be good-
natured, for he was quite sensitive, ill-na-
tured, and hated Josh's " dog Lating," as he
termed his small stock of Roman. Josh
Jones took great delight in teasing Hash-
head. They were quite different men in
most things, but in their love of old peach
brandy they were "hail fellows well met."
Now it came to pass, in the course of hu-
man events, that both of our heroes had
some business at Grayson Court-house, Vir-
ginia, and on their return they called at the
house of an old Quaker by the name of
South, who, notwithstanding his rigid mor-
als in most things, kept good brandies of all
kinds, "perticler the best old peach on the
face uv the yeth." They called for it, and,
in the expressive language of Josh, who was
always graphic in speech — truly so when in-
spired with "old peach"— they "smote it
hip and thigh with the edge uv the sword,
like unto Samson smitin' the plaguy Philis-
tines at E,amoth-lehi with the jaw-bone of a
jackass, as saith the book of Judges."
Under the exhilarating influence of the
Quaker's old peach. Josh soon began to roll
out his Latin freely and fluently, and Hash-
head "got ashy." But Josh intended to
have some fun, and kept on. Hash-head
considered himself degraded in the presence
of the old Quaker and his wife by Josh's su-
perior learning. He took it as a gross in-
sult, and "walked into Josh right smack in
old South's house. " I will let Josh describe
the rest of the scene in his own style.
"Now I were detarmined to wake up
those two demure old Quakers, old Mr. and
old Miss South, who sot thar, and would only
say ' yea' and ' nay' to evry word I'd say to
'um. They paid no more attention to my
Lating than to a blackbird a-chatterin' ; so
Hash-head I seen was my on'y chance. I
kep' poking my old Roman at him thick and
heavy, and he soon flew all to flinderations.
196 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
But I salted him wusser and wusser, and the
fust thing I knowed he struck me, co-diff^
right plum between the eyes, with his maul-
bustin fist, quick as a ball -hornet, and
sprawled me on the floor full length. I riz,
and at it we went like blue blazes. We
tuck it best six out'n eleven, upsettin' chairs,
tables, and furniter of evry natur all over
the house, hither and thither. The two old
Quakers looked at us as though they blieved
the sperrit uv the devil were turned loose,
which were a fact, fur Quakers is disarners
uv sperrit s.
"I soon seen that Hash-head would git
my note ef I didn't play some game on him,
fur he were feedin' me in the short ribs in
double quick time. I had seen before the
scrimmage begun a big whoppin churn o'
cream settin' on the ha'th by the fire, and the
thought entered my pate, nolens volens, that
I'd throw Hash-head by that churn o' cream,
and turn it over in his face, and git out'n
the scrape ef possible, fur I were shoved fur
the rent. I made a desput grab, and we fell
side and side by said churn jist norated, and
I turned it over right smack in his face, co-
whollop, right in his eyes and mouth. This
sine qua non had the desired effect. He
broke his holt as quick as when you souse a
bucket uv cold water on two bull-dogs
a-fightin\ I jumped up, but thar lay Hash-
head, lickin' out his tongue, fust on one side
then on t'other, tastin' old Miss South's yal-
"The next thing I seen was old Miss
South, with hands and eyes turned up to'ads
the good world, which I reckon she were
Vokin' the sperrits uv Fox, Barclay, and
Penn to cum to her relief and take signul
vengunce, Deo volente^ on me fur the loss uv
her cream. And lest she mout be hearn,
and fur fear Hash-head, arter he had got the
cream out'n his eyes and mouth, and his bel-
ly full on it, which he were hidin' it mighty
fast, mout wade into me agin, I sloped,
jumped on my hoss, darted down the Blue
Ridge at the Blaze Spur, and was soon in
good old Surry."
Fighting in that section was a common
occurrence. No pistols, knives, sticks, and
198 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
cowardly weapons, such as are now used,
were resorted to ; they scorned all such as
beneath brave men. Only such weapons as
Nature had given them would they use in
attack and in defense. They would knock
with their fists like a Milo, kick with their
feet like a horse, bite like loggerhead turtles,
^^ gouge like screw-augers, and butt like rams ;
any method with the body was lawful. Bul-
lies would keep their thumb-nails oiled and
trimmed as sharp as hawk's claws. Ask
them why, they would reply,
"To feel fur a feller's eye-strings, and
make him tell the news."
As you passed houses going home from
musters and public gatherings, those who
did not go (and they were not numerous)
would accost you thus : ' ' Who font to-day V
If you replied, "No one," there was evi-
dently a disappointment. As Johnson
Snow believed and expressed it, "That a
good deal uv shoutin' and groanin' went a
great ways towards settin' off a meetin'," it
Avas the common belief of that pugilistic
people "that a great deal of knockin', kick-
in', bitin', gougin', and buttin' went a good
ways towards settin' off a muster or public
Sometimes a fight would come off at a
"corn-shucking." On such an occasion Pey-
ton Tally and Henry Muneas fell out and
"font." It was a short fight, for they were
no sooner stripped, in the "ring," and the
word given, than Peyton backed a little, and
went at Henry old ram or old goat fashion,
full tilt, struck him in the stomach with his
head, "laid him to the land," and had well-
nigh made a "finish of him." The by-
standers did not like such a short fight, and
remonstrated with Peyton, who coolly re-
" 111 be dadsamped ef one good butt ain't
wuth two knocks. It knocks the wind oufn
you quick as thunder. Thar is great need
fur the camphire bottle when you take it
ram-fashion. Dadsamp ef his innards won't
trouble him fur a 'coon's age. His Avife and
chillun will har'ly know him when they see
him. Hell not be so pot-gutted in the fu-
tur, I reckon."
202 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
A QUAETER-Or-A-DOLLAR FIGHT.
Speaking of the foregoing hutting fight
reminds me of a sharp fight between Sam
Clark and Jim Smith, son of the renowned
Hash-head Smith, about a quarter of a dol-
lar — no more nor no less.
The people in that region were scrupu-
lously honest — more so than any section I
have ever seen. They lived remote from
commerce, with its corruptions, and there
was not fleece enough in all the land for
sharpers to come in to corrupt their morals.
Not even a wooden-nutmeg Yankee could
make any thing from off them. They knew
nothing but downright honesty. A man
who would not pay a debt to the amount of
five cents was scouted and despised most
cordially. A man was never known to
"make over his property." He had to pay
the "utmost farthing,"" else public sentiment
collared him. If a man's honesty was im-
peached, there was a fight, unless it was
Now it came to pass in a settlement be-
tween Sam Clark and Jim Smith there was
a misunderstanding about a quarter of a dol-
lar. At Shipp's Muster-ground, the "pot-
ter's field" of that country, the subject was
brought up for settlement while they were
both pretty full of " knock-'em-stiff. " They
couldn't settle it, and they " drawed thar lin-
nin" to settle the important contest. Their
friends hated to see them fight about so tri-
fling a thing, and Miller W. Easley, a friend
to both, offered to pay the quarter. But
nay ; their honor was involved in it, and the
honor of "thar chillun," and they were de-
termined to settle it on the Fisher's Kiver
field of honor (Shipp's Muster-ground), and
with Fisher's River weapons.
They made a ring, "moseyed" into it, and
no cool man — one who had the least sym-
pathy for his tabernacle — would have taken
the knocks, kicks, bites, gougings, battings,
etc., that were given and received by those
two duelists for a trifle. After they had
beaten each other into a "frozzle," and
"inter mince-meat," they were parted by
their "seconds," and, having vindicated
their insulted honor, the matter was adjust-
204 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
ed to the satisfaction of the belligerent he-
FIGHT ABOUT A KIPSKIN.
Here follows an account of a fight farther
illustrative of the foregoing. Josh Jones,
who fought Hash-head Smith at the old
Quaker's, in Grayson County, Virginia, was
a tanner by trade, and "tanned on shares,"
as well as his own hides. Davis Holder,
one of his customers, was a considerable bul-
ly, and when a little "tight" boasted not a
little of his manhood. Josh tanned a "kip-
skin" for Davis "on shares," and there was
a difficulty in their settlement some way. It
became a serious affair, and Shipp's Muster-
ground was the place of settlement. Davis
brought it up, the ring was made, and the
pugilistic party went into it. I will let
Josh, in his graphic style, tell the rest of it.
"I felt mighty skittish and jubus uv Da-
vis, fur he was allers a-swaggerin', and ca-
vortin', and boastin' about, tellin"' how many
men he'd licked, and so on. But I were
mad as ilugence, and didn't care a dried-ap-
ple cuss whether I lived ur died. I jumped
into the ring; ^Verhum sat,' says I, and
slapped my hands aginst my hips, and crow-
ed like a game-rooster. In jumped Davis,
and come full drive at me, like a fishin' hawk
dartin' at a fish. I had no idee uv boxin'
with him, fur his arms was long as May-
poles. So I jist hipped him, and throwed
him co-whollup — a desput fall on the hard
yeth — on the flat uv his back, soused my eye-
string feelers sock into his eyes, and he blated
like a calf. Uncle Billy Norman pulled me
off, who told Davis, who was talkin' 'bout
tryin' it agin, 'I could lick him any day.'
So that ended Davis's bullyin', puffin', and
blowin' about his manhood."
206 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
Xm.— THE CONVERT.
At Parson Bellow's night meetings it was
not uncommon for persons "under convic-
tion" to fall, and lie apparently dead for
hours, and when they rose it was with a
shout of triumph, "a clar and hopeful con-
Parson Bellow held a good many of his
night meetings in the "Hawks Settlement,"
east of the head of Stewart's Creek, not far
from the Sugar-loaf Peak of the Blue Pidge.
The Hawks generation was numerous, and,
being much attached to each other and to
their romantic section, they were never
known to live far apart. The parson had
held several meetings successfully for them
at old Timothy Spencer's. It being a great
country for apples, every man had a large
orchard, and in the fall all the surplus ap-
ples were distilled into brandy. Every man
had at least one "bar'l" a year. Timothy
THE CONVERT. 207
Spencer had one "barl," and kept it in his
house behind the door. When the door
opened the "barT' was concealed behind it.
Sol Hawks had seen this barrel for weeks
at the various night meetings, and had used
it for a seat during service. Instead of list-
ening attentively to the parson's sermons,
he was all the time thinking of the " innards
uv the barl," the temptation was so great.
His mouth watered not a little for some of
the "good critter." While the "sarvices"
had been going on, the crafty Sol had ascer-
tained that the "bung" of the "barT' could
be worked out. But what of that ? He
could not get at the delicious contents. It
was vexatious to Sol. He couldn't stand it.
Next meeting Sol took a quill, and man-
aged to take the same seat. While prayer
and other services were going on, in which
.the attention of the audience was directed in
another way, Sol got the "bung" of the bar-
rel out, thrust in his quill, and drank it down
as a thirsty man does water. He took too
much, for, just as the benediction was pro-
nounced, Sol, attempting to rise, fell heavily
on the floor.
208 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
The excitement was intense. The women
shouted aloud, the men groaned in spirit, all
supposing that the power of grace had done
the deed — had felled that sturdy oak of Ba-
shan, that tall cedar of Lebanon.
"Bless the Lord !" exclaimed Parson Bel-
low. "I thort I'd done no good here to-
night — hadn't cast the net on the right side
— ^that the wheels uv Zion was clogged ; but
hallaluyer ! the Lord allers comes at a time
when we ain't lookin' fur him. Glory ! glo-
ry ! ! Bruthering and sisters, sing a mighty
sperritul hyme, and lift up yer hearts in
prayer. This feller has bin a-standin' it out
fur a long time, but the power what fotched
down Saul uv Tarshish has flung him at
last — glory ! "
The ' ' hyme" was sung, fervent prayer of-
fered, but there lay Sol speechless and seem-
" Bruthering," said the parson, "yer faith
is too weak. Ef you'd joray in airnest, with
a strong faith, he'd be convarted afore you
could cry ' 'cavy. ' "
Prayer was oifered again and again, but
there lay Sol helpless as ever. Other tac-
THE CONVERT. 209
tics must be used, and the parson was rich
in expedients. He went to Sol, and told
him what to do, "to give up," etc.
"But, Sol," continued he, "don't shout
too quick. Git religion good, Sol. I know
these Hawks. They needs a heap uv relig-
ion, and you, Sol, have bin monstrous bad.
Religion is mighty good truck to have, Sol.
YouVe sinned enough to fill Noah's ark
chug to the brim. I'm afeered you'll fall
from grace ef you shout too soon, Sol."
Thus he continued, pounding away on
Sol's back with both hands every now and
then, as though he would maul religion into
him with his stentorian voice and herculean
fists. At last he interrogated Sol thus :
"Sol, how do you feel, old feller? Do
you feel like you was a poor lost creetur ? a
messuble sinner, lost and ondone V
"Ah me!" groaned Sol, "I don't know.
I feels mighty curious. My head is gwine
round and round, and a ringin' in my ears
sorter like tizzerrizzin ! tizzerrizzin ! "
"Pray harder, Sol," replied the parson;
"you ain't half a-prayin'. You'll nuver git
religion prayin' that snail fashun. But
210 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
take care, Sol, and don't shout too soon.
Be mighty keerful on that pint, Sol. Bruth-
ering and sisters, one and all, sing that good
old sperritul hyme,
" ' Show pity, Lord ; O Lord, forgive ;
Let a repentin' rebul live ;'
and pray while you sing, like you'd take
heaven by storm. Who knows but what
your prayers mout be hearn V
That "hyme" and several others were
sung, and several prayers offered, but there
lay the stubborn Sol, the tall cedar of Leb-
anon. The parson thought it was time to
catechize him again, to see their success — to
see whether "thar prayers was hearn."
"Sol," he asked, "how do you feel now,
old feller? Do you feel like you love the
Lord and his people, poor soul ?"
"Ah! Lord, I don't adzackly know. I
feels almighty curious. I'm almost 'swaded
" Bruthering and sisters," said the parson,
"my stars and lovely garters, ef he ain't
convarted now, ef he jist knowed it. He
jist needs a little more faith. Rise up, Sol,
and shout, and youll feel happy. Bruther-
VHE CONVERT. 211
ing, it ain't wuth while to be stayin' here;
it's arter midnight ; let's go "home. "
Sol got up, rubbed his eyes a little, step-
ped out, and went home, but he never
212 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
XIV.— NOT A TRAVELER.
John Snow, son of Hail Snow, I believe,
was "not a traveler." He indignantly re-
pelled the idea; "he paid his way through
thick and thin, and no thanks to nobody."
It came to pass that John Snow and oth-
ers went a trip some distance with wagons.
There were no lucifer matches then, and at
night, when they "tuck up," some one would
have to go for fire to the nearest house.
But here I must run off into digression to
show what the people carried to market in
those days. It was not whisky and brandy,
for they hardly made enough for home con-
sumption. ' ' Things got nation dry" in sum-
mer before apple brandy came in to their re-
lief. It was not "tar, pitch, and tarpin-
tine, " for there was but little pine there, and
it was short-leafed and poor. Nor was it
corn, wheat, and rye, for they were "allers
NOT A TRAVELER. 213
mighty scace" before a new "crap" came in.
What then ? Why, butter, flaxseed, chest-
nuts, chinkapins, Irish potatoes, and tobac-
co. These Avere the main staples. Sam
Lundy always added a few items of his own
to the above when he "sloped" to market;
"wannit goody," "hickVy-nut goody," and
As stated, with such a load as the forego-
ing, except Sam Lundy's, Avho had a clear
field in his own line, John Snow and com-
pany camped near a very fine house, and
John was sent to the house to get fire. He
went to the door, made application for the
fire, and the lady — a very polite one, doubt-
less — asked him to come in and be seated.
"I'm too dirty," replied John, "to come
inter as fine a room as yours is ; I'd ruther
" Oh ! never mind, good sir ; travelers
can not keep their clothing clean like parlor
"I ain't no traveler, marm," said John;
"I pays my own way. " (John thought she
meant traveling beggars.)
"Very well, sir," replied the lady, "you
214 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
are right. Be seated till the servant brings
John was pacified, and took his seat in a
fine parlor, on a splendid Windsor chair, till
the fire came. He returned and reported
the whole adventure to his company.
"I tell you, boys, with my dirty britches
I sot right smack in one o"" the finest Weas-
ler chairs you uver seen in all yer borned
days, and my big, mud-bustin, pis-ant-killin'
shoes on thar fine carpet looked like two
great big Injun coonoes. Ill be poxed ef
I knowed how to hold my hands nur feet."
THE WINDSOE CHAIR.
COOKING, BIG EATING, ETC. £17
XV.— COOKING, BIG EATING, ETC.
You may expect, in a healthy country like
that, there would be big eaters. Stout,
healthy men must eat accordingly. Their
food was plain and simple — no highly sea-
soned viands to destroy the stomach and pro-
duce dyspepsia. Whether a French cook
was better than a Fisher's Hiver cook they
knew not, nor did they care a chestnut. So
they got their bacon and cabbage, chicken
soup and pot-pies, Irish potatoes and hom-
iny, and their buckwheat pancakes, tarts,
and puddings, by way of dessert, all was well.
A good appetite supj)lied the rest. A few
families (called the "quality") could afford
coffee once a week, only colored at that. All
their " sweetnin' " was honey, of which there
was great abundance, and the best in the
world. Sugar and molasses were never used ;
they could not be afforded. Black ' ' Gingy-
cake Josh Easley" was the only man that
218 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
used molasses,^ and where he procured it I
can not tell. I never saw any till I left that
country in my nineteenth year. No "change
of course" at their tables ; substantials, des-
sert, pastry, and all went on the same table,
using the same plates.
Their gatherings were frequent, as previ-
ously intimated. One neighbor would help
another harvest his grain, taking it in turn
till they were all through. Corn-shuckings
were conducted in the same way ; nor could
a man clear a piece of ground without invit-
ing his neighbors, and having a "clearin\"
They "swopped work." They were pre-em-
inentlv social. At such gatherino-s and
workings, all hands would sit down to a
long table, and the first dish they "moseyed
into" was soup. Large pewter basins full
of soup were placed along the table at a con-
venient distance, and several pewter spoons
were placed in each basin. They "waded
inter it"— never dipped it out — all that could
reach in the same basin. Shadrach Frank-
lin played a prank on ' ' Long Jimmy Thomj)-
son" over a basin of soup once. Shadrach
was the first man who dipped his spoon into
COOKING, BIG EATING, ETC. £19
the smoking basin, and it burned his mouth
awfully; but he resolved to have his fun,
and bore it without a frown. "Long Jim-
my," a big eater, asked him, " Shadrach, is
the soup in good kelter?" "Yes," was the
serious reply. Long Jimmy tried it, and
unceremoniously spirted it out all over the
table, producing a soup rainbow. All right ;
a hearty laugh was full compensation for the
shower of saliva and soup.
I have said Long Jimmy Thompson was
a big eater. He was the Milo of Mitchell's
River, and Mose Cackerham was the Max-
imius of Fisher's River. Once, at a gather-
ing, Long Jimmy let in on a large tray of
hog's feet that was set on a table. He made
such havoc of them, and the bones fell so
fast on the floor, that it provoked Lark Can-
nady to blurt out,
" Hello w. Uncle Jimmy, you hull out
bones faster nur a cotting-gin can shell out
cotting-seed, a nation sight. You kin beat
a whole cotting-pickin' uv huming beings all
But Long Jimmy paid no more attention
to this witty gibe than a hungry cur would
220 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
to a gnat. At a reaping at Uncle Billy
Norman's, Mose Cackerham ate up the back-
bones of several hogs, and their joles. The
bones kept falling on the floor with such
force and noise that Dick Snow exclaimed,
"Dang it. Uncle Mose, ef your bones
don't fall as hard on the floor as ears o' corn
on the floor of a empty corn-crib at a corn-
shuckin', and nearly as fast. By jingo ! I
Avouldn't feed you fur all yer wuck. You'd
'duce a famine in a man's smoke-house mighty
A tinker was about the first man I re-
member to have seen. He was an indispens-
able in that section — as much so as Prince
Knock-'em-stifl". A tinker, in that honest re-
gion, needed not the name of a John Bunyan
to make his fraternity respectable ; he was a
man of distinction, and honorable. Pewter
cupboard ware was all the go. The tinker
made it his business once a year to visit ev-
ery family to remould their broken pewter
ware. We had pewter basins, dishes, plates,
spoons, etc. Our cups were tin mostly;
some were pewter ; but few men had plain
delft-ware; china was unknown. Of "yeth-
COOKING, BIG EATING, ETC. 221
en ware" there were crocks, jugs, and jars,
which are essential every where. Major
Oglesby, a man of some wealth, "one of the
quality, " had the finest delft known. It was
a great curiosity to the "natives," and much
talked of every where. When his plain
neighbors visited him they were much em-
barrassed to know how to use it.
Uncle Frost Snow, William Golding, and
others went to the "major's" to take a hunt.
At meal milk was served in tea-cups — glass
was then not used, not even by the major —
and Uncle Frost, not knowing how to han-
dle a tea-cup, turned it over, and spilled the
milk on a fine table-cloth.
"Dang it, major," said Uncle Frost, "I
wish you'd a gi'n me a tin cup, then I'd a
knowed how to a used him. I ain't no
quality no how. You can't make a quality
man out'n me. I'm nobody but Frost Snow,
from old Fudginny."
222 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
XVI.— A DECLARATION OF LOVE.
The young men did their courting almost
entirely by word of mouth. Their "edica-
tion" was very poor, and they did not like
to expose their "ignunce" by a love-letter.
Sometimes a very bashful fellow, deeply
smitten with love, would give vent to his
feelings in a letter. I have been quite for-
tunate in securing one of these letters. I
pledge my word, and can prove it, that the
following is an exact copy from the original,
not a word nor a letter altered. The free
use of capitals is to be ascribed to the
writer's deep feeling. But I will not com-
ment. Here is the letter, leaving names
"Dear Miss I seat Myself To Let you
Know My Heart Desire This Very Day,
God Know That I Dow Love you P
F And I Have you if you Will Mee,
A DECLARATION OF LOVE. 223
And- 1 want you To write To Mee as soon
as This come to Hand, And give Me satis-
factions one way or other, God Know at
This Time Which way you will give, God
sed in His Word First Seak The Kingdom
of Hevin and all His Hiches shall Be Added
on, And I Beliave you Love Mee, And I
Guv you the First Time I Ever Thought!
And Whare it wase at, Mr F s at Me-
tin. And I tell Why I Thout Sow, For
Actions speaks Louder Than Words withe
Mee, And I Write you A few Loines To
Tell you The Truth, When I was Layin on
my Death bed* I Thought of you Moor than
Evry Body Else Well P F I Nev-
er Told my Bisness in any Manner But I
Hinted To you one Time And you Nuver
stutteredf one Bit But Turned Very Bed
And Sed you Was Going to Uncles And
you Hav not Gon Before you MarriedJ
And I Drop The Subjick For God Sed in
* He had just recovered from a severe illness, and was so
carried away with the subject he writes as though he had
f The young lady had a stoppage in her speech.
% Here I am at a loss for his meaning ; but it is in the copy.
224 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
His Word Forsak Father And Mother And
Cleeve Untoo They Own Wife And if All
The Twigs was Pens And the Rivers was
ink And I Had the Fingers To use them I
Codent Moore Than Describe The Love
That I Have for You* And I Come A pur-
pass To Know The Other Time I ware
whether My Desires could Be Accomplished
ore not And I considered I Better Wait
Till I See Whether I Got Well ore not I
Am not The Man I was Before But I am
Soutf as Ever and Feels as well But it is
Gods Blessin that I am Writin this Day.
"I Want You Read This With A feeling
Hart And Tell Mee of your Situations That
Time Ef God Had call When You in Sick-
nessj And whether You Had That Hope
Of Meetin your Sister ore Not in Etteer-
nity ore Not or in Heven. I Say So That
I have a Hope of Meetin My Three Little
Brothers if I am Faithful For They Are
* She was a hard-hearted girl, else she would have been
won by this eloquent passage.
f Here again I am at a loss for his meaning ; but I am bound
to follow copy.
X The young lady had been sick ; and had previously lost a
A DECLARATION OF LOVE. £26
sure And They are All That are sure And
I waunt you To consider That Satisfaction
is wuth All And I am A poore Man But
That Dont Hender Mee from Loving you
But I waunt you To Consider That Beligion
is "Wuth all I Say Farewell if I Never See
you Know Moor I Hope To Meete You in
Heven Whare Evry secret of Hart shall Bee
judged And you Know Then That I am
Tellin Thee Truth And I Say To You That
You Are older A nuff To Marry Ef you
Ever expect To For I Say it is every body s
Duty To Marry if They can Suit Theirself
And I Say That I can Sute Myself if you
Say Sow And I have Hearn Folks Say That
Love was Stronger Than Deth And I Say
That it is So For when I Thout Cold
Home* I Thout of you And I Druther See
you And any Body else And I Say To you
if you Turn your Face from Mee That you
Turn yourself from the Dearest And I want
you To write To Mee And Tell if What I
Have Bit Dont Take Why is The Beason
* Here again I am in the dark ; but I am not at liberty to
alter. Copy must be followed to the letter. I set out to be a
faithful copyist, and the reader has the result.
226 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
And I Say To You if "What I Have Writ
to Dont for Godsake write To Mee And
Keturn This May God Bless you Sow Fare-
well E. H. S.
"N.B. You Muss souse bad Writin and
GLASSEL AND THE OWL. £27
XVn.— GLASSEL AND THE OWL.
A Scotchman, named Glassel, came on a
bee-line from the "old country,*" and halted
not till he arrived at the foot of the Blue
Ridge Mountains in Virginia. He rested a
few days, took his gun, and went into the
deep gorges of the mountain hunting. While
he was in one of those deep gorges, the hab-
itation of owls, the old king owl of the gorge
"let off" in trumpet tones.
Glassel had never heard the like, nor had
he seen the like, when he looked up into a
tree and saw that large head, those big bright
eyes, and that grave, intelligent countenance.
His excited imagination supplied the rest.
"That," thought he, "is some enchanted or
metamorphosed human being — no ordinary
one at that — the work of some wicked spirit."
His fruitful imagination gave it an intelli-
gent speech, and made it speak to him in
this inquisitive manner :
228 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
Owl. Hoo-hoo-hoo-who are you ?
Glassel. My name is Glassel, sir, at your
Owl. Hoo-hoo-hoo-who are you ?
Glassel. I say, sir, my name is Glassel ;
and, if I might be so bold, what is your
Owl. Hoo-hoo-hoo-who are you ?
Glassel. I say, sir, my name is Glassel,
and if you'll let me alone I will you.
And Glassel left. ,
ONE OF THE PEOPLE. £29
XVni.— ONE OF THE PEOPLE.
I ONCE lived near a town where a friend of
mine named King often went, and he would
uniformly stay all night with me. He lived
in St. Clair County, Alabama, and by staying
with me he accomplished two objects : he
< saved his bill (an important item with him)
and enjoyed my company, of which he
seemed very fond. He was a quiet, harm-
less creature, and the only injury he ever did
me was the loss of my time in keeping him
company. The only pay I could get out of
him was to tease him a little.
We have no right to raise the question
why a wise and sovereign Being has made
some seemingly bad jobs, physically and in-
tellectually. They belong to the great fam-
ily of man, and fill some important sphere,
if we could see it. Though you may regard
them as nothing more than hores^ not so with
the sovereign Maker and Disposer. Now
230 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
my friend King was what some would call,
in the process of man-making, an intellectual
failure. Here, reader, is the proof. In
1848, when General Taylor was nominated
for the presidency, Friend King called on me,
and, after salutations, inquiry was made aft-
er the news of the day.
Author. What is the ncAvs in St. Clair,
King. Right smart.
Author. Very well, what is it ?
King. Well, thar's a man over thar run-
nin' fur President.
King. I bleeve they call him Ginnerl
Author. Where did you say he lived ?
King. Over in the back part of St. Clair,
ur a little beyant.
Author. Is he running pretty Avell ?
King. He is that. I bleeve he's a-gwine
ter be elected. Nairly all St. Clair's a-gwine
Author. What! old Democratic St. Clair
going for General Taylor ? But who is this
man General Taylor, any how?
ONE OF THE PEOPLE. 231
King. Why, hain't you hearn on him?
He's a-bin lickin' out the Maxicans fur some
time, over thar a leetle beyant St. Clair.
Author. Are you for Taylor — as good a
Democrat as you f
King. I ain't that ! not becaze I'm a
Dimmicrat, but on anuther account. Sich
a man can't git my vote.
Author. Why not ?
King. Hain't you hearn what he done to
the Maxicans over thar at a big spring?
Now I ain't no friend to the Maxicans, but
they ought to be font farly and be licked out
farly, and not treated in sich a onhuman
way. Now ef Ginnerl Taylor had a font
'um far, and had a licked 'um up like a cow
a-lickin' salt, I wouldn't a kearn ; but the
way he done it he can't git my vote.
Author. How did he do it ?
King. Thar warn't but one spring o' wa-
ter in all the country, and Ginnerl Taylor
got possession o' that, and wouldn't let the
Maxicans have one drap o' water, which was
onhuman. Last the Maxicans couldn't
stand it no longer, and come runnin' to the
spring, like thirsty oxen arter water, and
232 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
Ginnerl Taylor shot 'um down like he would
deer. Sich a onhuman man can't git my
vote fur dog-pelter.
Author. Any more news ?
King. Nothin', on'y I'm gwine to leave
Alabama, and a-gwine to Georgy.
Author. Why so ?
King. Taxes is too high ; break me up ;
can't nur won't stand it.
Author. What is your annual tax ?
King. Seventy-five cents. Poll-tax ain't
but fifty cents in Georgy.
Reader, this man is one of the sovereigns
of the country. He is a King ; the only
tyrant that ever ruled over him was PoU-
,; tax. He got rid of twenty-five cents of the
'i tyranny of King Poll-tax by moving to
< "Georgy," where he is doubtless congratu-
lating himself on the economy of his remov-
al. Should these lines ever fall under his
eye, he will see that they are "according to
A CALL TO THE MINISTRY,
XIX.— A CALL TO THE MINISTRY.
I HAVE no doubts as to a call to the Chris-
tian ministry. I concede all that is claimed
for it by intelligent orthodox Christians ;
but as to the "call" contained in the story
below I shall not decide. My business is to
Somebody is always telling stories about
the "Hard-shell Baptists."" Wags have the
run on them, and they may as well be con-
tent and bear it. Here follows a tale told
of them not long since. My informant lo-
cates it in the mountains of North Carolina,
where the Hard-shells are quite numerous,
and where they believe pretty strongly in
dreams and voices. In the important mat-
ter of a call to the ministry, a dream or a
voice is a thing almost indispensable.
Now it came to pass that a man by the
name of Walker felt himself considerably
moved to "hold forth,'' and kept "spread-
234 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
ing the fleece," Gideon-like, to ascertain his
duty in the important premises. To assist
him in his pious investigations, he called at
a still-house one evening to get some of the
"good critter."" After refvesliment^ the sto-
ry runs, he left for home, and on the way he
felt "moved" to go into a thick grove a few
hundred yards from the road, " thar to wras-
tle on the subjeck." While he was "wras-
tlin' " most earnestly, scarcely outdone by
the patriarch, some one passed the road with
a long-eared animal, politely called a John
Donkey, and John let off, as his race is wont
to do sometimes, in a most moving and thrill-
/^ Walker's imagination, by his earnest
"wrastlin'," was wrought up to great in-
tensity, and he converted Major John's dis-
cordant music, which to most men resembles
the filing of a saw-mill saw, into a call from
heaven urging him to preach the Gospel.
No time was to be lost. He rose from his •
knees duly commissioned, went to his church,
and demanded a license, when the pastor in-
terrogated him thus :
Pastor. Do you believe, Brother Walker,
A CALL TO THE MINISTRY. 235
that you are called of God to preach, "as
was Aaron V
Walker. Most sartinly I does.
Pastor. Give the Church, that is, the
bruthering, the proof.
Walker, I was mightily diffikilted and
troubled on the subjeck, and I was detarm-
ined to go inter the woods and wrastle it
Pastor. That's it, Brother Walker,
Walker. And while there wrastlin', Ja-
cob-like, I hearn one ov the curiousest voices
I uver hearn in all my borned days.
Pastor. You are on the right track,
Brother Walker. Go on with your nora-
Walker. I couldn't tell for the life ov
me whether the voice was up in the air ur
down in the sky, it sounded so curious.
Pastor. Poor creetur! how he was diffi-
kilted. Go on to norate. Brother Walker.
How did it appear to sound unto you ?
Walker. Why, this a-way : "Waw-waw-
Jcer — waw-waw-^er f Go preach, go preach,
go preach, go preach-ee, go preach-ah, go
preach-uh, go preach-ah-ee-uh-ah-ee.''''
236 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
Pastor. Brutliering and sisters, that's the
right sort of a call. Enough said, Brother
Walker. That's none ov yer college calls,
nor money calls. No doctor ov divinity uver
got sich a call as that. Brother Walker must
have license, fur sartin and fur sure.
The license was granted, the story goes,
and Walker is now, doubtless, making the
mountains ring with his stentorian lungs.
It is difficult to beat an experienced man
at his own game ; it sometimes happens,
however. Methodist preachers — and no
harm is intended — have ever been fond of
excitement at their religious meetings. The
extremes at such meetings are allowed for
the sake of the overbalance of good which
is accomplished. It will not do, they con-
tend, to check extravagances in shouting and
crying, for fear of doing harm to those prop-
An "old stager" in camp-meetings once
told me of an incident which clearly outdid
him. He had encountered many camp-meet-
ing scenes which were "hard pills,'' but he
stood up to them all with a good grace, ex-
cept this one.
He and an old yoke-fellow, his story goes,
held a camp-meeting in rather a rude section,
where all the ideas of the people had come
238' FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
to them in a ludicrous and crude fonn.
They were Nature's children, and easily ex-
cited, and they had quite "a stir." In their
prayers for mercy, prompted by their con-
victions of sin, they used the common lan-
guage and imagery of the country, and they
used the same vernacular and imagery in
their shouts of triumph.
The meeting waxed hotter and hotter from
the beginning, and on Sunday night it "boil-
ed clean over." My friend, the narrator,
stated that the "altar" was full of "mourn-
ers" and "new converts." He concluded he
would go into the "packed crowd," and see
what they were doing. He entered, and
found one man sitting flat on the ground,
in great distress, swinging his head back and
forward, crying for mercy in the following
earnest manner :
" Jeeminny! O Jeeminny! what shall I
dot" Rising from his seat, and going
through the crowd for the woods, he contin-
ued: "Jeeminny Crimony! O Jeeminny
Crimony! have massy on me, a poor mis-
suble cuss of a sinner ! "
My friend let him go scooting for the
woods, and continued his travels a little far-
ther, and found a distressed woman seated
in the same manner, and putting up her pe-
titions very pathetically thus :
"0-yes Moses! 0-yes Moses, Moses!
what shall I do? 0-yes Moses, Moses!
have massy on me, a poor devil ov a cree-
"No better fast," thought my friend, and
he passed on beyond the "mourners'" to see
how it was going with the "young con-
verts." He did so, and heard them interro-
gate each other as to their hopes and pros-
pects. It ran as below,;
"How do you feel, Sister A ? Are
you traveling purty fast to Caanian V
■*> "Five hundred miles ahead ov any thing
on this grit ! Gloree ! gloree ! Thar ain't
nothin' on yeth to be compared unto it —
honey, shugar, sweetnin' ov ev'ry kind, ash-
cakes, cracklin' bread, corn dumplin's, bis-
cuits, pot-pies, poun'-cakes — pshaw ! I won t
compare any thing yethly with it."
My friend by this time was fast becoming
nervous, but concluded he would move on-
ward a little farther, and encountered two
240 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
other happy spirits, and heard their ques-
tions and answers, which, put in "prent,"
stand thus :
"How do you feel, Sister B ?"
"Happee! happee! Yes, horse-fly, I m
happy, horse-fly, certain — happy as a 'pos-
sum up a 'simmon-tree ur a 'coon in a hol-
ler. Glory ! gloree ! "
This was the last dose my friend could
bear. He went to his brother preacher, who
had seen similar sights, and had heard the
like sounds, and proposed to dismiss the
meeting for the night, which was readily
agreed to, and both gjcknowledged themselves
outdone for once.
STRAW! STRAW! MORE STRAW HERE! 241
XXI.— STRAW! STRAW! MORE STflAW
A DENOMINATION of Christians is not to be
blamed and held responsible for the bad con-
duct, freaks, and eccentricities of a few of
its members. They all have their "black
sheep" — freakish and eccentric members.
The Methodist and Baptist, being the larg-
est denominations, and having more to do
with the masses, of course have more of the
above-named material, hence some rather lu-
dicrous and amusing scenes sometimes occur
at their meetings. It is but charitable and
right to conclude that all the parties are in
sober earnest, even in their strangest freaks.
It is their way of doing things.
These things being premised, I proceed to
my straw story.
Somewhere in Middle Tennessee, in the
past, a Methodist camp-meeting was held,
242 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
and, while all the tents were good and well
supplied with straw (a very necessary thing
in tents and arbors), the arbor, and particu-
larly the altar, had not been well provided
with the article. Things dragged pretty
heavily till Sunday night. There had
been plenty of straw for Avhat few "seek-
ers" had come into the altar up to that
time; but on Sunday night the preacher
"cast the net on the right side," and scores
came up, the altar Avas crowded, and what
little straw was in the altar was occupied,
and the others had to take the ground or
There was an old "amen" Methodist, of
the old "shad-belly coat" tribe (now ex-
tinct). He saw the sad state of things, be-
came nervous, and roared out at the top of
his cataract voice, drowning the singing, ex-
hortations, shoutings, every thing —
"Straw! straw! straw here! Bruthren,
more straw here! A hundred souls lost
here to-night for the want of straw! Run
to the tents and fetch straw, else the blood
of souls will be required of you ! Straw,
you careless souls ! straw here ! You mout
STRAW! STRAW! MORE STRAW HERE' 243
a had straw anough at fust, O ye of little
He gave them no rest till the straw was
brought ; but how the thing went the depo-
nent saith not.
244 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
XXn.— TARE AND TRET: AN ALABAMA
( This is a rule in all our arithmetics, which
originated in commerce, and for the benefit
of commercial men. Tare^ in commerce,
means the allowance or abatement of a cer-
tain weight or quantity from the weiglit or
quantity of a commodity sold in a cask,
chest, bag, or the like, which the seller makes
to the buyer on account of the weight of
such cask, chest, or bag ; or the abatement
may be on the commodity sold. Ti^et^ in
commerce, means an allowance to purchas-
ers, for waste or refuse matter, of four per
cent, on the weight of commodities.
Now it isn't every body that understands
these commercial rules, and I shall not stop
to discuss the justness of them. I vouch for
the above definitions, for they are taken ver-
hatiin from Webster. But all men do not
see Webster nor our arithmetics, nor do they
TARE AND TRET: AN ALABAMA TALE, 245
' ' cipher'' as far as ' ' Tare and Tret. " " Thar
ain't no use in cipherin' as fur as that, " says
the uneducated farmer.
On account of this neglect, a one-cotton-
bale man, of Butler County, Alabama, got
"sloshin mad" in Greenville, the capital of
About the time the Montgomery and Pen-
sacola Railroad reached Greenville, a cop-
peras-breeches, piny-woods man "druv" into
town with his bale of cotton, well packed
and "neat as a pin,"" and wished to make it
buy a great variety of things — a little of the
"good critter"' among the rest. He soon
found a purchaser, for cotton was bearing a
good price. The cotton was weighed, the
money was "forked over," and a small de-
duction made for the " tare. "
One-bale. Tar ! whar the devil is thar
any tar on it ? Thar warn't a tar-bucket in
a mile of the gin-screw.
Merchant. Hold still, friend; we mer-
chants always deduct a certain amount for
the tare, Avhich is to indemnify us against
loss by the attachment of extraneous matter
to the bales.
246 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
One-bale. Bull and Injens ! The devil
you do ! By lioky ! thar ain't no tar nur
any o' yer extranus matter on it. It's jist
as clean as tlie old 'oman's bed-quilt. You
can't swindle this boy; he's walked too
many chalk-lines fur that.
Merchant. I tell you, friend, the tare
must be deducted. Every thing in trade
must be made ivhole, and done up according
One-bale. Jubiter Ammon ! Mebbe you
mean that my bale is tore, by you sayin' it
must be made ivhole. Dem it ! whar's yer
eyes, man? Thar ain't a hole in it, nur a
tored place. Now what you got to say, Mr.
Merchant. This much : here's your mon-
ey. You are the tightest customer I've run
up against lately.
One-bale. You mout a knowed that ef
you'd a bin smart, and jist a peeped at my
physmahogany. I've gi'n ye one more kink.
TARB AN1> TKET.
HAM RACHEL, OF ALABAMA, 249
XXIII.— HAM RACHEL, OF ALABAMA.
EuFAULA, Barbour County, Alabama, is a
beautiful city, on the banks of the deep-chan-
neled and rapid Chattahoochee, and in 1845,
the time of the incidents of my story, was
the mart of commerce for Barbour, Pike,
Coffee, Dale, and Henry counties in Alaba-
ma, and of several counties contiguous in
These Alabama counties were mostly set-
tled by a poor, plain, hardy, robust, and hon-
est people, many of them wholly uneducated.
All they cared for was "to make buckle and
tongue meet" by raising stock, a few bales of
cotton, and a little corn for bread. Stock —
cow stock — being the chief commodity, they
were denominated "cow counties."
Now, mind, these were the first settlers.
Eufaula was a great city with them, like
Paris, London, and New York to most folks.
When a "squatter," as some naughtily call-
250 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
ed them, carried his one, two, or three bales
to market in Eufaula, the "ole 'omun" must
needs go, and maybe one or two of the
" childering, " to see the "big town. " Hence
you could see the ox-carts coming in, the
"ole man" driving, and the "ole 'omun"
sitting on the top of the one, two, or three
bales, and the "childering" walking. The
"ole 'omun" has brought with her several
extra matters for sale : butter, eggs, socks,
etc. Then for shopping after the "cotting"
was sold. Hundreds of little notions must
be bought, not forgetting a jug, at least, of
the "good critter," for "ailments and sich
Of course Eufaula exerted a great influ-
ence over these counties in all things, par-
ticularly in politics. As the town went in
politics, so did the country. Their favorite
merchants were their oracles in these mat-
I was in Eufaula in 1848, shortly after
the candidates for the presidency, Cass and
Taylor, were nominated. I was in the store-
house of Mr. G , a Whig, when there
HAM RACHEL, OF ALABAMA. 251
came in one of the "sovereigns," a Demo-
crat, a tall, stoop-slioulclerecl, sallow-faced,
meek, quiet, teachable-looking man, with cop-
peras "britches'" (no mistake), and a home-
made cotton shirt, constituting his entire
dress. His copperas was "gallused" up as
high as his fork would admit, which nearly
lifted him off the ground. His rustic looks
and movements would have attracted the at-
tention of the most unobserving man on
earth. Mr. G. gave him a seat, Avhich he
accepted, and sat down characteristically.
When seated, he looked to Mr. G. with looks
indicating, "Speak, for thy servant heareth.
I am as a young bird ; cram any thing down
me you choose."
After drawing a long breath or two in a
peculiar way, he said,
"What do the people say about here in
regard of the nomination for -pTesident, Mr.
Mr. G. We are all for Taylor ; we know
him ; he has fought our battles ; he is one
of the people ; if he were to come to your
cabin, he would be at home, drink butter-
milk, eat bread and butter and yam potatoes
252 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
with you. As to General Cass, he's been
doing nothing all his life but scooting ca-
noes up and down the Western waters, and
knows nothing about statesmanship. Tay-
lor is the man for the people ; hell be elect-
Copperas. Yes, IVe hearn ov Ginral Tay-
lor; he has fout the Maxicans, and licked
'um all up, like a cow licks up salt, and has
kivered the nation with glory, like a bed-
quilt kivers a bed ; but as to this man, Cass,
I nuver hearn ov him afore. I didn't know
thar was sich a man treadin' sole-leather.
If Mr. Copperas did not see a merchant
who was a Democrat before he left, he cer-
tainly voted for Taylor.
These things premised, it was my "man-
ifest destiny" to spend a night in Barbour
County in 1845, 1 believe — a night never to
to be forgotten. It was on the main road
between Clayton, the county seat, and Eu-
faula, the mart of commerce. A little while
before sundown I called at a very good-look-
ing house, and requested to stay all night as
a traveler. Permission was granted by the
lady of the house. I saw no man! I soon
HAM RACHEL, OF ALABAMA. 263
learned that John M'D resided there,
who had gone that day to Eufaula, and
would soon return. I congratulated my-
self on my good fortune in getting to a quiet,
good house, where I could take a refreshing
night's rest. But alas ! to moralize a little,
how soon are our best, most sanguine hopes
blasted ! A man knoweth not what a night
may bring forth, as well as a day.
I seated myself in the portico facing the
public road, got hold of an old newspaper,
almanac, or something of the kind, with
which to amuse myself a little, but it was
not long before I saw some half dozen wag-
ons coming from toward Eufaula. They
halted at the gate, came in with great free-
dom and boldness, drew water from the well,
and watered their teams, as though it be-
longed to them, interspersing their labors
with waggish remarks and blasphemy, not
even respecting the presence of the lady,
Mrs. M 'D . They then commenced pop-
ping their whips about in the yard loud
enough to shock the nerves of nervous peo-
ple, and then asked the lady if she "mout
have some chickens fur sale. We hain't bin
254 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
eatin' nothin' but dried beef so long weVe
wore ur corn-grinders down to the gums,
and we want suthin' else by way of change. "
"WeVe none for sale," replied Mrs.
"No chickens !" said they. "Thar goes
a durned old rooster, old as Mathuzlum, yit
well buy him ruther than wear out ur teeth
on dried beef Won't you sell him ? YouVe
sartinly got uther roosters to sarve and take
keer ov yer hens, hain't you V
How the conference ended I can not tell,
for I left, and retreated to another part of
the house ; but one thing I do knoiv : those
wagoners camped in the lane near the house.
As night came on I saw that the uneasi-
ness of Mrs. M 'D increased. ' She would
go to the door and look toward Eufaula, ut-
tering many nervous sighs. I suspected the
cause, though I did not know that her hus-
band loved "sperrits." Some time during
the night I heard a crowd coming in at the
gate. One peculiar voice, in short sentences,
kept up a continual din, upbraiding and
cursing "ole John fur gittin so o^igentle-
manly dog drunk. " Soon as the lady heard
HAM RACHEL, OF ALABAMA. 255
that^ she understood it, and covered her face
in her hands and sighed deeply. Then came
the clambering of five or six men in at the
door, no one speaking but that reproachful
I left and went into another room. Soon
that tormenting voice, which I soon learned
was Ham Rachel's, sang out,
"Here, boys, put the ole drunkard fool in
the bed. Ef Ham Rachel hadn't a brought
him home, he'd a now a bin a-lyin' in the
streets ov Eufauly, ur lyin' along the road,
a-keepin' company with hogs. The ole cuss,
he nuver can go to Eufauly 'thout gittin'
full as a bee on chamber-lye, though Ham
Rachel is allers 'zortin' him like a preacher
not to fill his cussed guts so full. Here,
Mrs. M'D ," addressing himself to the
lady, "here is yer old, poor, unfortinate hus-
band, which Ham Rachel has had the good-
ness to fetch home so offen agin and agin.
The Lord on'y knows how oifen Ham will
have ter fetch him home yit. Some ov
these times, when Ham Rachel ain't about,
ole Nick will git him, and Avill pour hot
lead down his cussed throat instid o' liquor.
256 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
Ham won't go down to ole Nick's deadnin
to see ter him," etc., etc.
Thus went on Ham Rachel ahnost end-
lessly. All the difference I could see was
"ole John" was "a few" the drunkest "In-
jun" in the crowd that accompanied him
I saw I was caught in a bad box, and re-
solved to make the best of it. My course
was soon determined upon ; I Avould have
nothing to do with the crowd, and would
have nothing to say to them ; I would keep
my own room. With this resolution I went
to the table. " Ole John's" attendants must
have their suppers ; they were entitled to it,
for they had brought the old man home.
Ham E-achel, being "chief cook and bottle-
washer" of the crowd, must, of course, have
After grace was said, "God bless us and
ur vittuls," Ham acting parson, being all
hungry, we attacked the table with great
energy. At the first assault there was no
politeness displayed in helping each other.
Ham generalized thus :
"Ev'ry man fur hisself, and God for all.
HAM RACHEL, OF ALABAMA. 257
Help yerself, stranger; you look like you
mout be a man what can weed yer own row,
clean at that. I dun-no whar yer live, but
doAvn here in these piny woods uvry man
waits on hisself."
Nothing more was said till the edge of our
appetites was blunted ; but Ham all the
time kept casting his inquisitive, restless
eyes upon me, trying to read me like a book.
At last he grew a little polite, and handed
me a plate of fried yam potatoes.
"Take some 'taters, stranger; mighty
plenty down here in these sand-hills. The
onY adjections Ham Kachel has to 'um, they
make him a little too cholicified ; but a lit-
tle number six will bring the wind from you
with a dreadful racket. My old 'omun al-
lers uses yerbs, but yerbs ain't strong enough
fur Ham Rachel.*"
On we went with our heavy assaults upon
the table, demolishing whole dishes, "smit-
in' them with the aige ov the soord," as
Ham expressed it.
"Stranger," said Ham, "take some but-
ter ; that's half ur livin' in this cattle coun-
try. It would be mighty tight times with
258 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
US here ef it warn't fur milk and butter, cow-
peas and yam 'taters. We'd look like the
peaked eend uv nothin' ; though the mur-
rin's bin mighty bad among cattle lately;
but Ham Rachel has great reasons to be
thankful, fur he hain't lost more'n twenty-
five ur thirty head, big and little. *"
We "swept the platter," and supper end-
ed. I went to my room, determined to
maintain my dignity and secrecy, hard as
Ham was trying to read me. Ham follow-
ed, determined to take me prisoner, read my
history, and get my whereabouts, latitude
and longitude. We sat down ; I purposely
looked mum and dignified. Ham's curiosi-
ty was aroused ; he could bear it no longer.
"Stranger," said he, "you're too durned
stiff and pertic'ler. Ham Hachel loves fur
a man to be as plain as an old shoe, and as
thick as cow-peas in thar liull. I've got to
know suthin' about yer. When Ham Ra-
chel (I wish you knowed him) begins a thing,
he carries it through, ur breaks the swingle-
This was j^refatory ; here comes the main
HAM RACHEL, OF ALABAMA. £59
Ham. Ef I mout be so bold, whar do you
Stranger. I "mout" live in New York,
New Orleans, Mobile, or Montgomery, or
any where else. That's 'my business.
Ham. By golly ! that's durned smart.
But, stranger, that answer don't co-robber-
rate to yer looks. That ain't you. Ham
Kachel won''t answer a stranger that a-way.
But 111 try yer agin, sence ye'r so ding snap-
pish on that pint. Ef I mout be so bold,
what sort o' biz'ness do yer foller, stranger?
Stranger. That's too bold ; but since you
must know, it is my "biz'ness" to follow
my nose — a pretty long one at that, you see.
Ham. Wusser and wusser. Durn it, I'll
drap you. You're as snappish as a par o'
Ham left, and went to the camp of the wag-
oners, who all the time had kept up every va-
riety of noise, laughter, and vulgar witticisms.
He had gone but a few minutes when ' ' ole
John" became very sick, and commenced
throwing up his "rot-gut whisky." The
throes were terribly painful ; a human Ve-
suvius was in dreadful volcanic action. At
260 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
every throe the lava would fall upon the
floor like a dashing cataract, accompanied
with deep-toned groans. As the action in
the crater went on in rajDid succession, it
deepened and widened, and the streams of lava
became more overwhelming and noisy. The
bed creaked loudly, and every eruption look-
ed as if it would throw him head foremost
out of his resting-place.
Ham heard the noise of the volcano,
and thought he would now lead the stranger
out in conversation. He came running into
my room with gestures the most wild and
frantic, and burst forth :
"Stranger! stranger! do yer hear that
ole devil pukin' out his innards ? I wouldn't
keer a dried-apple durn ef he would puke
hisself inside outurds. He nuver will listen
ter Ham Rachel, which nuver was cotch in
sich a fix. Ham drinks his drani and pays
his bob in all licker crowds, but he allers
travels and keeps what he posits in his in-
nards. He loves licker too well to be throw-
in' it away like ole John ; besides, he's too
savin' a man ter be wastin' his vittuls in
that a-Avay. He may puke up his stockin's
HAM RACHEL, OF ALABAMA. 261
afore 111 go a -near him. Poor Miss
M 'D ! She'd no biz'ness a-marryin"' —
a 'omun ov her age — marryin' sich a dried-
up ole cracklin'."
I still maintained my gravity, and Ham
left and went to the noisy wagoners, who
kept up their infernal din. The rest of the
company — four — who came home with " ole
John" and Ham, had lain down on pallets,
and were running against each other in the
snoring line as if some great prize were
staked. No renowned artist, graphic pen,
nor gifted music composer can describe the
struggles and contests of these four rival
snorers ; of course, I shall not attempt it.
Before Ham left he gave them a blast
"What the devil are you arter here?
a-sawin' gourds, grindin' coffee, filin' saws,
beatin' tin pans, blowin"* horns, beatin' drums,
bloAvin' fifes, shootin' pistols, and so forth,
and so forth, breakin' the stranger ov his
rest ? I'd have a little breedin', "
I lay down about midnight, exposed to
the cross-fire of three discordant batteries —
the snorers, the wagoners, and the groaning^;
262 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
of "ole John*" — my nerves being none the
better for the contiguity. I dozed a little,
but was soon roused by a new sound. It
was at the wagoners' camp. It was the
voice, tones, and intonations of a Hard-shell
Baptist preacher. The old " heavenly tone"
rang loudly "in the stilly night." It had
the suck-in and the blow-out of the breath,
the uli ! and the ah !
What! thought I, has some Greatheart
of a preacher found those scapegraces and
commenced a thundering sermon upon them?
"Give it to them thick and heavy," said I
I was not long in suspense, for here came
Ham running into the room (a dim light
was burning), puffing and blowing, with eyes
and hands upturned toward heaven with
holy horror and indignation.
"Stranger! stranger! O stranger!" he
shouted, "do you hear that? That's no
preacher, stranger ; they're on'y a-mockin'
preachin'. They're mockin' old Eldridge,
who used ter hold forth in these deadnins,
but run away and went to Texas. Afore
he run away he baptized these very rascals
HAM RACHEL, OF ALABAMA. 263
who is a-mockin' him. Ham Rachel seen it
with these peepers o' his, and what he sees
he sees. IVe hearn 'um shout, sing hymns
and sperritul songs with ole Eldridge. Durn
ole Eldridge ! (Lord forgive Ham ! ), he's no
better nur them, but that's no reason fur
them to make fun o' religion. Ham Hachel
(poor devil ! ) is no better nur he ought to be ;
but, thanks ter Jubiter, he nuver made fun
o' religion. Lord a massy on us, stranger !
do yer hear 'um at it yit ? I'm afeered the
yeth will open her howills and swaller 'um
up, like it done Korum, Datum, and Byhum
in the willerness. Ham Rachers not a-gwine
a-near 'um agin this night. Ham don't in-
tend to be revolved in thar drefful catis-
trough ; he'll fly up to roost right here."
Down he lay on one of the pallets, and
was soon contending for the prize among the
snorers. About this time the preacher at
the camp ended his services, and all went to
sleep and to snoring except "ole John" and
myself. "Ole John" kept up a groaning
In the morning we were all a stupid set —
scarcely had energy to wash dirty hands and
264 FISHER'S RIVER SKETCHES.
faces — until the jugs were resorted to. ' ' Ole
John" and I fared the worst : he was too
sick to drink, and I was a rigid teetotaller.
Breakfast came on. The attack on the
table was feeble compared with the assault
the evening before. On leaving, all were
"dead-heads" except myself. The rest had
paid their way by bringing "ole John"
home. I paid my "fare" and left, but not
alone. Not I. It has ever been my destiny,
if there is a bore in reach, he will find me,
and cling to me like one's shadow.
While paying my bill. Ham shouldered
his two jugs and prepared for traveling.
" Stranger," he said, "the roads forks jist
down yender ; one goes to Eufauly, and
t'other by Ham Kachel's. As Ham's a-gwine
home, he'll go that fur with yer, and show
yer the right road."
Suiting action to words, oif he "piked"
for the gate. I mounted my horse, which
had fared better than his master, and on we
went. Ham all the way letting fly a diarrhcea
of words and sentences, till we arrived at
the "fork" of Ham's road. Ham halted.
I then took a good parting look at him.
HAM RACHEL, OP ALABAMA.
HAM RACHEL, OF ALABAMA. 267
There he stood, a lean, gaunt-looking speci-
men of freakish humanity, about five feet
eight inches high, stoop-shouldered, long-
armed, and knock-kneed, with a peaked dish
face, little black restless eyes, long keen nose,
and big ears. His dress was cotton pants,
dyed black with copperas and maple bark,
a coarse cotton shirt, collar large and open,
no vest, coat, nor socks. His hat was old,
broad-brimmed, and slouched down over his
shoulders behind, and turned up before.
His pants were "gallused" to their utmost
capacity, leaving considerable space between
his knees and the tops of his old brogan
shoes; not having on "drawers," of course
the skin was exposed. His two jugs were
part of his dress. They hung across his
shoulders, before and behind, suspended to
a wide black greasy leather strap, nearly
down to his knees before and his calves be-
hind. Thus this stransre fio-ure stood before
me, independent as a wood-sawyer, and made
his parting speech :
"Stranger," said Ham, "that's the Eu-
fauly road. But listen" (pointing down the
road). " Do yer hear that cow-bell ? Thar
268 FISHER'S RLVER SKETCHES.
ain't less nur two hundred cattle arter that
bell. That's Ham Rachers cow-bell, and
them's his cattle" (giving me a significant
look and Avink). "Stranger, give out yer
Eufauly trip to-day, and go home with Ham
Kachel, and stay a long week. He can treat
yer like a king on the best these deadnins af-
fords. Do yer see these jugs? then thar's
more in Eufauly. Thar's plenty ov fiddles,
gals, and boys 'bout here. I don't know
whether ye'r married ur not : no odds ; yer
wife Avon't know it, and the gals won't keer a
durn. You may sing, pray, dance, drink, ur
do any thing else at Ham Hachel's. He's
none ov yer hide-bound, long-faced cattle,
which strains at gnats and swallers camels, as
ole Eldridge — durn him! — allers said in his
preachin'. Come, stranger, the world Avasn't
made in a day — took six, I think — come go
"I thank you kindly, sir," I replied.
"Your generosity is great; but my busi-
ness is quite pressing, and I must be going.
Good-morning to you, sir; I am much
' ' Good-by, stranger, " replied Ham. ' ' The
HAM RACHEL, OF ALABAMA. 269
Lord be wf you. You'll find but few sich
men in yer travils as Ham Rachel."
Ham took his road and I took mine, and
that is the last I have seen or heard of him.
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